Hemp Homes Could Hit New High As Growing Cannabis Gets Legal

By Wendy KochNational Geographic 

The Declaration of Independence was drafted on paper made from it. Henry Ford built car parts with it. George Washington grew it. Now, as more farmers are allowed to harvest this multi-purpose plant, hemp might see a new heyday—in homes.

The United States is rolling out a come-back mat for an ancient leaf that was widely used from Colonial times through World War II but fell into anti-drug disfavor. Its 2014 farm bill permits limited growing of hemp, the non-psychoactive cousin of the same cannabis plant that produces marijuana.

Hemp backers see potential boom times ahead. Buoyed by influential bi-partisan supporters, including GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, farmers are aiming to put down seed. Builders are hoping those crops lower the cost of hemp fiber, used to make non-toxic, energy-efficient insulation.

Hemp Homes Are Cutting Edge Of Green Building

Hemp is turning a new leaf. The plant fiber, used to make the sails that took Christopher Columbus’ ships to the New World, is now a building material.

In Asheville, N.C., a home built with thick hemp walls was completed this summer and two more are in the works.  Dozens of hemp homes have been built in Europe in the past two decades, but they’re new to the United States, says David Madera, co-founder of Hemp Technologies, a company that supplied the mixture of ground-up hemp stalks, lime and water.

The industrial hemp is imported because it cannot be grown legally in this country — it comes from the same plant as marijuana.