Sustainability is at the heart of the hemp industry. Let’s look deeper into how hemp helps solve the most pressing challenges facing our environment.
When you look at the environmental issues the world is facing, there are endless crises that seem unsolvable. However, there are also glimmers of hope in all areas. In more than one of those areas, hemp can be a big part of the solution.
Hemp is a versatile crop. It has served many uses for thousands of years. As a member of the Cannabis sativa family, it was pushed out of the markets as a part of the war on drugs. But as more and more people become concerned with the state of the environment, hemp is an even more attractive crop.
How hemp can make an impact
Hemp is a viable, affordable, and environmentally friendly option in all industries demanding products that can be made from hemp.
The world has no shortage of environmental challenges:
- Carbon emissions
- Water shortages
- Too much trash that won’t decompose
- Slow recycling processes
The ground, air, and water are becoming more polluted, and we’re looking for ways out. So, as a start, let’s look at how hemp can make an impact on these issues.
Carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere by a plethora of manufacturing and other industries. Some of those industries are necessary to sustain our way of life, while others could be changed. Fortunately, there are more than a few where renewable and non-polluting resources present an alternative.
Hemp, while planted, produces a net negative when it comes to carbon emissions. One acre of hemp can absorb up to 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide. In addition, hemp is a hardy crop that can be planted twice per year in many regions. Where two crop cycles can be completed, carbon dioxide can be absorbed in twice the total quantity.
Hemp doesn’t only fight carbon emissions while in the ground. Once the crop is cultivated, it can be used as a replacement for more polluting manufacturing materials. Clothing, building materials, paper, and ropes are among the products that hemp can produce. Let’s start with clothing.
The clothing industry contributes to a few of the above environmental challenges (which we’ll look into soon). When it comes to carbon emissions, hemp can reduce the need for synthetic polyester, which is one of the larger emitters. Cotton, too, produces carbon dioxide emissions, though at less than half the rate of polyester. Hemp is a cheap alternative that can be produced inexpensively.
Then there is the manufacturing of paper. Trees now bear the brunt of the paper manufacturing industry, with 93% of paper coming from trees.
Paper is a driving cause of deforestation. As plants, trees take far longer to grow than hemp, which can go through two crop cycles in a year under some conditions.
With the fast re-cultivation of hemp, as well as the carbon vacuum effect of growing hemp, shifting to create more paper from hemp is an obvious choice for the environment.
All crops require water, but some require far more than others. While we’re talking about cotton, we should point out that water is where cotton performs the most poorly. Cotton requires heavy irrigation, while hemp does not. Cotton is known to deplete local freshwater sources with its irrigation needs.
There are a few ways that hemp can fill a role where a more polluting material would normally be used.
Clothing is one of the areas where, again, hemp is the clear environmentally friendly choice. Hemp is 100% renewable, reusable, and decomposable. Hemp clothing does not need to contribute to the trash crisis. It also lasts a long time and ages relatively well, making it take longer before you even need to worry about recycling it.
Hemp can be used to make renewable shoes, paper, building materials, ropes, and cords. Like other plant-based ropes, hemp ropes are completely renewable.
In the end, when you can replace another material with hemp, hemp will produce far less waste. At worst, it will match the waste produced, such as with other plant-based ropes.
Examples of industry implementing hemp for sustainability purposes
On top of the above uses, there are plenty of examples of businesses using hemp for sustainability.
Extreme biodiesel’s fuel
Hemp can be used in the production of fuels. The crop can replace cellulosic ethanol as a raw material for biofuel. This allows it to replace fossil fuels and equally polluting corn-based ethanol.
While it isn’t pollution-free, hemp produces a fuel with a carbon footprint much closer to neutral. It’s also a more sustainable, long-term solution.
Extreme Biodiesel took note years ago and in 2014 began farming its own hemp.
Environmentally friendly plastic
No one associates plastics with environmental friendliness, and for good reason. The synthetic polymers typically used in plastics are not decomposable at any rate we can afford to wait for. A plastic bottle can take 450 years to decompose in a landfill.
While we hate plastic’s environmental effects, we have to admit that we have a love-hate relationship with it. It’s a durable material with limitless utility. So, what can we do?
Hemp is being put to use with other recycled fibres to make a new kind of plastic. This kind of plastic is completely renewable and is being put to use by companies inside and outside of the cannabis industry.
Challenges and barriers — the road forward
Two main factors continue to hold back hemp research and practical applications:
- The war on drugs
If you’ve found yourself asking questions like, “If hemp can make 100% renewable plastic, why the hell isn’t it everywhere already?” you’re not alone.
Hemp cultivation was only legalised in the US in 2018. While hemp isn’t marijuana, the association between the two has been slow to be reconciled politically. It’s also a global issue, not just an American one.
Going forward, the legacy of the global war on drugs (marijuana, specifically) will likely take time to change. However, many countries around the world have been easing restrictions on hemp, specifically. But it’s a heavily regulated industry in most of those countries, and one that’s been less well-researched before recent years.
As a crop, hemp needs relatively few pesticides and has a lower overall environmental impact. However, it does still require significant amounts of water as well as:
- A lot of fertiliser in some soils
- Intensive labour
Despite these challenges, hemp offers solutions to several unique and significant other challenges. With hemp becoming more legal and more well-researched worldwide, perhaps these roadblocks will be quickly lifted going forward.
European Medicines Agency gives cannabinoid medicine positive opinion
Tetra Bio-Pharma’s has received a positive opinion from the EMA’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products on its application for Orphan Drug Designation for QIXLEEF.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has given a positive opinion for Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) for Tetra Bio-Pharma’s QIXLEEF.
Cannabinoid-derived drug discovery company Tetra Bio-Pharma has received a positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP) on its application for ODD for its investigational medicine QIXLEEF as a potential treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a chronic neuropathic pain condition.
The medicine is a botanical inhaled drug product with a fixed ratio of THC and CBD that provides fast-acting relief from pain, which the company says offers patients a viable, safer, and non-opioid option for pain management.
Tetra CEO and CRO, Dr Guy Chamberland, commented: “The positive opinion issued by the COMP is excellent news as Tetra continues to execute its regulatory strategy in Europe.
“An ODD brings several unique advantages, from a cost reduction in drug development, to an accelerated review process and market exclusivity for 10 years. Such strategy is cost and time-effective and allows the Company to easily gain market shares in a competitive free environment. If granted, this would represent QIXLEEF’s second ODD as a potential treatment for CRPS, in addition to the ODD granted by the US FDA in March 2018.
“We firmly believe that QIXLEEF will be a safe and effective medicine for pain management and an alternative to opioids.”
The positive opinion issued by the COMP will be sent to the European Commission, which is expected to grant the orphan designation within 30 days.
As the medicine will be intended to treat an orphan condition, clinical studies will be preformed with a significantly smaller number of patients and could be entitled to conditional approval through a decentralised procedure resulting in a single decision from the European Commission, valid in all EU Member States, which would shorten the time to market approval.
Cannabis regulation changes across Switzerland and Luxembourg
It is hoped that the changes will move consumers away from the black market.
This week both Switzerland and Luxembourg have announced changes to cannabis regulation.
Both Switzerland and Luxembourg have been signaling that legislation changes surrounding cannabis would be implemented but have delayed implementation up until this week, when Switzerland announced recreational and medical cannabis will be legalised, and Luxembourg announced it would allow home cultivation.
The moves have been catalysed by the desire to protect youth and move consumers away from the black market.
Changes in Switzerland
In Switzerland, the Social Security and Public Health Commission of the Council of States (CSSS-E) has said it is lifting the ban on cannabis and reviewing regulations relating to cannabis cultivation, production, trade and consumption.
The changes were approved by nine votes to two, with the CSSS-E supporting the initiative saying that it will be “regulating the cannabis market to better protect young people and consumers”, enabling legislative work to begin to create a regulated market. It aims to stem the black market and ensure that only cannabis which has been checked for quality is available.
The CSSS-E has said it is essential that the National Council takes into account the results of the pilot projects underway on the non-medical use of cannabis, citing that “the international context must also be taken into account.”
Changes in Luxemburg
Luxembourg announced plans to legalise recreational cannabis three years ago but has delayed on the matter. However, the country made the announcement on Friday (22 October) that citizens would be able to cultivate cannabis at home for personal use.
The deal struck in 2018 set the stage for legislation of recreational cannabis to be drawn up with the goal of impunity or legalisation regarding production in the country, as well consumption of cannabis for personal use, and for a national production and sales chain to be introduced under state control, with product quality assurance.
The deal said that the revenues from cannabis sales would be given priority into prevention, education and healthcare, and invested in the field of addiction.
The new announcement set out that citizens would be able to grow up to four plants, and that seed trade would be allowed, however, public consumption of cannabis remains illegal.
Cannabis investment company to see UK and Europe growth
US cannabis investment company Thought Leaders has acquired UK CBD brand mellow.
US cannabis investment company Thought Leaders has acquired UK CBD brand mellow which will see the company accelerate its growth across the UK, Europe and Asia markets.
The $13.25m acquisition of mellow by Thought Leaders will also see the launch of the mellow brand into the US and will include mellow.store, the end-to-end e-commerce services Grow by mellow, along with 50 per cent of the recently announced mellow Asia.
mellow co-founders, Neil Tunbridge and James Storie-Pugh will remain at mellow as company heads looking at new investment opportunities for the group.
Pugh, commented: “We are excited to make today’s announcement and proud of our new partnership with Thought Leaders in the US.
“It’s such an exhilarating time for CBD and these developments put mellow in the pole position to steer success for our e-tail platform and our end-to-end e-Commerce services as well as mellow Asia. As a result, mellow as a company will be at the forefront of rapid market growth globally.”
Tunbridge added: “The cannabis industry is here to stay and more and more people are starting to embrace what is likely to be the single biggest driver of the health and wellness market over the next few years.
“The World Health Organization has recognised that CBD may have the potential to help with health issues such as sleep, insomnia to anxiety and pain.
“A paper published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, outlined the key reasons why people are turning to CBD. Anxiety, sleep problems, stress, pain and health and wellbeing came out as the most common reasons. Even the sporting world can see the advantages of CBD. The world Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of banned substances in 2017, and the Tokyo Olympics allowed athletes to use CBD during the competition. Sports stars and athletes are often drawn to CBD for anxiety, pain relief and healing.”
CEO of Thought Leaders, Mark Singleton, said: “mellow is a key component of Thought Leaders global growth strategy. It’s well curated assortment of industry leading CBD brands and products, consumer focused education and industry leading technology are an exciting addition to our portfolio.
“The anticipated launch of the mellow US marketplace will bring a world class CBD assortment to US consumers, providing variety and quality with accelerated revenues. James and Neil’s experience and leadership in CBD and direct-to-consumer strategies are a welcome and valuable addition to the growing Thought Leaders team.”
- European Medicines Agency gives cannabinoid medicine positive opinion
- Cannabis regulation changes across Switzerland and Luxembourg
- Cannabis investment company to see UK and Europe growth
- How COVID has and will continue to change the cannabis market
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