There has been talk over the years, of hemp being used as an energy crop, but it has not amounted to anything.
Although hemp is a highly productive and low-input crop that can be used to produce a multitude of products such as clothing, nutritional products, plastic and building materials, it is still illegal to grow in many countries. Due to federal drug laws, the U.S. is one of those countries, (aside from Colorado), but things are beginning to change. Hemp in the news last week reports that legislators in Hawaii recently approved a bill that will allow the study of hemp as a biofuel feedstock and phytoremediation resource.
Phytoremediation is the environmental treatment of using plants to remove toxins in the soil, (metals, pesticides, solvents, etc.), rather than excavating and disposing the contaminated material elsewhere. Basically, it restores the balance of contaminated soil in an environmentally-friendly way. Certain plants and trees draw in toxins that can later be harvested and disposed of.
As for biofuel, Hawaii currently has biodiesel plants that meet 8% of the state’s transportation needs. Cultivating hemp as feedstock could potentially raise this percentage and reduce the state’s need for imported fuel.
For these two valuable reasons, the bill gives the dean of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii-Manoa permission to run a two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel crop research program.
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