cannabis and the other plant-based drugs are grown inThird World countries, political intervention under theguise of drug interdiction has been and continues to bemanipulated for political purposes by serving as apretence for military action. The invasion of Panama andthe political turmoil in Afghanistan, Mexico andColombia, to name a few countries, are the results of themilitarisation of the War on Drugs. Despite the mass ofevidence implicating the American military in massive-scale drug-dealing, including the importation of manytonnes of cocaine from South America to the USA tohelp fund covert activities, the drug war warriorscontinue to claim the moral high ground.
The Growth of Hemp Industries
However, due to the tireless efforts of thousands ofhemp activists around the world, the tide is slowlystarting to turn. Cannabis hemp can now be grownlegally in most countries,although the United Statesremains a notable exception. Whilst hemp industries are stilla minor player on the worldscene, their scale and range ofproducts are steadily rising dueto the increasing acceptance ofthe concept of industrialagriculture. In order toproduce true sustainability,industrial agriculture seeks touse annual crops as thestarting point for factoryproduction, replacing minedinputs such as iron ore and coal. But can hemp andother select crops really make an impact on the loomingenvironmental catastrophe?Imagine your country one generation into the future,following the passage of a law requiring all industrialproduction to be completely non-toxic, biodegradableand sustainable. In this world, cars and many otherthings are now made of hemp bio-plastic. This materialis not new. It was developed in 1941 by Henry Ford, whomade a car body that was one-sixth the weight of steelbut had 10 times the impact resistance. Documentaryfootage of this remarkable achievement is available onthe Internet. Future generations will never know what apanel beater actually did, and the insurance industrywill be much downsized. Perhaps, in this future world,those responsible for suppressing such valuable greentechnology will finally be brought to task.
• Paper and textiles
Australia earns about $400 million a year by sellingchips from old growth forests, but we import finishedpaper products to the value of $1.4 billion.In the future world, the use of trees and chlorine inpaper-making is now a receding memory. Modern non-wood paper-making factories operate surrounded bygreen fields of hemp. The billions of dollars saved onimports are invested into massive reforestationprograms, stabilising erosion and facilitating the returnof biodiversity. Synthetic fabrics are long gone, replacedby breathable natural textiles of hemp, ramie andbamboo.
• Building and construction
Hempcrete is a building material manufactured fromthe chipped inner fibre of the hemp stalk. Mixed withlime, ground slag or other additives, it forms a cellulosecement lighter than conventional materials but withimproved thermal and acoustic insulation properties.The material is fireproof and completely resistant totermites.Hempcrete revolutionises home building in the future.It sets like concrete but can be cut like timber. Anyunwanted structure can simplybe ground up and thrown intothe new mix. A more "organic"style of building can develop,because it is now astraightforward process torearrange internal walls andmake any other changes to ahome to suit changing familyneeds. In some Europeancountries, nearly half of alldwellings are owner built.Furthermore, hempcretedramatically reduces the cost ofhousing by simplifyingconstruction; for example, a roof cast of hempcretereinforced with bamboo can replace a tiled roof, fasciaand guttering. This roof will have better thermal andacoustic insulation than the tiles, will be resistant tohail and will greatly reduce the risk from bushfire.In addition to its direct benefits in construction,hempcrete functions very efficiently to sequester carbondioxide. Bio-sequestration is the process by whichplants take up carbon dioxide and water and use theSun's light to synthesise glucose and then cellulose. Ifthe cellulose is used in long-lasting structures, then theatmospheric carbon dioxide is effectively removed or"sequestered", improving the weather health on Earth.The average Australian family generates about 10tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. One hectare ofhemp can sequester up to 20 tonnes of carbon dioxideannually. The average hempcrete house wouldsequester about 40 tonnes. When a house is made ofhempcrete, it is not only this direct carbon dioxidewhich is saved.Using bricks, tiles and other fired ceramics, though,generates a huge amount of carbon dioxide inmanufacture. An average brick house generates up to500 tonnes of carbon dioxide in its total construction,
2• NEXUSwww.nexusmagazine.com OCTOBER – NOVEMBER 2010
In addition to its directbenefits in construction,hempcrete functions veryefficiently to sequestercarbon dioxide.