Article by Bruce Ryan, High! Canada
Around our planet, the entire cannabis vibe is going mainstream at a rather remarkable clip. “Medical, recreational & industrial.” It’s all over the news. Mexico just legalized medical cannabis. Nevada legalized recreational. Washington State legalized industrial hemp (98:0) across the board: no “permit” required. Companies are being formed left, right and centre. Serious investment money is being raised to bring the cannabis industry into the 21st century. Some players are already well on their way…. and others are deep into uncharted territory. (smile) I do, however, suspect many of these investment bankers are smoking their cannabis stocks. Some are investing into very questionable ventures. “Unicorn” valuations, as they are called. Our friends at dankr.ca have a t-shirt: It’s 4:20 somewhere. (Wear it with pride!)
INDEED IT IS 4:20> Over the past several months I’ve heard from thousands of people across the globe: Oregon, Alberta, New York, England, Colorado, New Brunswick, Italy, Columbia, Tennessee, Ireland, Kentucky, New Zealand, Manitoba, Washington, France, British Columbia, Nevada, India, Texas, Canary Islands, Ukraine, Manitoba, New Hampshire, Ontario, Romania, California, Saskatchewan, Paraguay, Germany, Nova Scotia, Australia, Thailand and Croatia… holy cow batman. Did I leave anyone out?
In my little world, most of these folks ARE focused on the farming of industrial cannabis (hemp) crops and/or the many uses of the fibre & core materials. Industrial users are looking for raw materials. In most cases, dual purpose seed & fibre production would double the return from each acre. Farmers have also started to realize that ‘there’s CBD in them fields’. That fact alone gets a whole bunch of farmers really, really excited. In other cases, tall stature crops would spur local business w/ bio-materials produced from the surrounding farms. For example: hempcrete is a relatively low-tech approach that produces great returns on LOCAL housing projects. Low-cost walls that are both great insulation and fireproof at the same time. Plus, the walls absorb more CO2 as they age! (see Roman hempcrete buildings circa 1000 AD)
While cannabis has been banned by UN treaties over the past 50+ years, industrial technology has moved forward. Being able to bring modern techniques to this ancient crop is KEY to development across the whole cannabis vibe. In another project, the high technology machinery involved in processing the tough cannabis stalk has attracted the interest of a national textile association. Their interest is in producing high quality textile-grade fibre down on the farm instead of shipping raw bales to a distant hammer mill. Out of the shadows, into the light, as they say.
Now that we can apply current modern high technology to this astounding crop: the watershed moment has arrived. The “Perfect Storm” as I call it. I have been tracking several projects over the past four years:
Hemp based construction materials
Plastics from cannabis
3-D printing techniques
Each one of these projects has the potential to transform several major sectors of industrial manufacturing on a sustainable carbon-negative basis. And I do stress carbon-negative. Using industrial cannabis to produce a wide range of materials sucks CO2 directly from the air; it also stores 30% of the carbon in the soil as root mass and is (generally) bio-degradable. The strategy here is to encourage & develop the cannabis sector on a serious mainstream basis. For example: Ontario produces 3 million acres of corn. Across all of Canada, this year in 2017, only 150 thousand acres of “hemp” are being grown. ONE industrial contract for composite manufacturing fibre would add 10% to that number. Do the math over a thousand companies. Compute the fuel value…Take cellulose manufacturing into the equation…. the list goes on and on. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care where the applications come from… I just want to see it happen.
Rather classic “chicken & egg” scenario. We’ve been working on this for years, well, decades really. I’ve tried to buy 4,000 one-ton bales from farmers across Canada… not much luck this year or last. Large scale industrial contracts cannot be filled from existing hemp production. The vast majority of hemp farms in Canada (like 99.1%) are growing for the seed only. They burn the stalk or plow it back into the ground. No fibre/core materials are available in contract level quantities. Sufficient dual-purpose crops must be grown and the industrial processing must be in place. Until that moment, cannabis (hemp) can’t ill the promise of “25,000” uses we see widely quoted. Once we solve this core scenario, it’s 4:20 everywhere
PS. Our engineers and associates are working on new machines that will transform the processing of cannabis stalk. These will compete with multi-million dollar hammer mills on a de-centralized basis. Change the game. Final testing is being done this month. We want Canada to lead the revolution. Sign on. Buy some hemp stuff. Vote with your dollars.