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Hemp in Construction? Who Knew?

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Hemp has been used as paper, textiles and ropes for thousands of years.  It is one of the oldest domesticated crops known to man, dating back to 8000 BC. Even though hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species, they are genetically different.  Hemp is non-psychotic and used primarily as a renewable source of raw material that is incorporated into thousands of products ranging from health foods to building products.

You can’t get high from Hemp because it contains virtually zero tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  Your body processes it faster than you can smoke it.  You’re more likely to get a headache than a “buzz”.  The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified all forms of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, making it illegal to grow in the US for many years.  For that reason, industrial uses had been forgotten until recently.

In January of 2015, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced to the House and Senate.  If passed, it will remove all federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial help, including removing the Schedule I controlled substance classification.

How is Hemp Used in Construction?

One modern building material made from hemp is called Hempcrete, used for everything from roof insulation to flooring to wall construction. It is a hemp-lime composite building material that is energy efficient, non-toxic and resistant to mold, as well as environmentally friendly, easy to apply and long lasting.  This natural building product is widely in the United Kingdom.

Another hemp building product is a medium density fiberboard made from 100 percent hemp hurds and is used to make environmental furniture, counter tops, walls and shelving. (Source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/hempcrete-hemp-house_n_1506662.html)

According to Mother Earth News, hempcrete is breathable, absorbing and emitting moisture to regulate internal humidity and avoid trapped moisture and mold growth.  It provides excellent acoustic and thermal insulation and thermal mass; it’s lightweight and reduces construction costs.

Why is Hemp so good?

It was discovered that the base of the hemp plant is highly durable and comprised of strong cellulose that is capable of going from wet to dry and vice versa over and over again without degrading the integrity.  This preserves the vapor-permeable nature of a building’s fabric, keeping it in good health, while providing insulation.

If the Industrial Hemp Farming Act Bill passes, builders and contractors will want to consider using  High Quality lost cost Hemp products and materials on new builds and even remodels.

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