Many people don’t know that the cannabis plant happens to be one of the most valuable resources on the planet. Besides the long-time idea that it gets people “high”, cannabis also has many other practical and economical uses.
Marijuana and hemp aren’t the same. Hemp doesn’t contain the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, THC, but both come from the same plant. For example, hemp is the term for cannabis when industrial uses are being applied, but marijuana is used to refer to medical or recreational use through smoking or ingesting.
Marijuana and hemp can be used to make clothing and edibles, but here are six other little known or unexpected uses for marijuana and hemp, including a few things we may see in our lives very soon.
1. Fuel–Cannabis can be used to develop biofuels to power automobiles, generators, and really anything else you can imagine. The University of Connecticut has been studying whether or not the fuel is actually viable, and the results showed that it indeed is. One of the major problems with current biofuel production is that it takes more energy to create it than you get in the end, but cannabis may be able to change that. One more piece of good news? It won’t take much to get the cannabis biofuel industry started. If someone is already growing hemp, they might be able to produce enough fuel to power their whole farm with the oil from the seeds they produce.
2. Batteries– Alternet reported that researchers are finding that cannabis may lead the way to producing more efficient supercapacitors. The actual engineering is a bit complicated, but basically involves the creation of nanosheets from hemp fibers in the same way scientists have been able to use graphene to accomplish the same thing. Hemp provides a huge advantage due to its inexpensiveness, as it can cost thousands of times less than graphene or similar materials. As hemp becomes more socially acceptable to work with, exploration into the potential technology should only increase in scope, and hopefully a viable technology will come out of it.
3. Nutritional Supplements–For those who don’t want to get high, there are also hemp-based nutritional options, often more healthy than the alternatives. It turns out that hemp is quite healthy, and can be a solid source of protein and minerals when it’s part of a balanced diet. There are a lot of items available, from protein powders to hemp milk, hemp seeds, and even hemp oil to cook with. Hemp can also provide vegetarians and vegans another piece to their diets.
4. Building Materials–You may soon be charging your phone with hemp products, wearing clothes made from hemp products, and even eating cannabis products in the near future. But how about also living in a structure created from hemp? Building materials are one of the most exciting products that can be manufactured from cannabis. It would let people living in areas with little resources get access to things for construction. Materials including concrete, plastic, wallboard, and even insulation can be made from cannabis. Pipes can be fitted from hemp-based plastics as well, taking care of plumbing issues.
5. Agriculture/Livestock–Livestock require a lot of resources to raise, including food, land, water, and other things. The amount of resources that it takes to raise animals like cattle usually outweighs what farmers are able to get out of the animals. But cannabis may be able to help some of that by providing a cheap and plentiful resource for food and bedding for large animals. Many animals are now fed diets largely consisting of corn, which can be replaced with cannabis-based feed. This would reduce costs and spare more food for people who need it, and also cut down on transportation needs. Convincing the general public to eat cannabis-fed meat will be another issue.
6. Plastic–Cannabis-based plastics are more easily recycled and degrade at a faster rate than traditional plastics. Other bioplastics are created from corn and soy, but hemp provides distinct advantages over both of them in terms of strength and sturdiness. The wide-ranging use for bioplastics made from hemp cannot be understated. Everyday items like soda bottles and food packaging could easily be switched to hemp-based plastics, as well as things like piping, furniture, and even car parts. After a while, you’ll be seeing cannabis-based products everywhere you look.