Thursday, June 26, 2008

Australia's New Oil Boom

Hemp For Industry Can Now Be Grown Legally Across Most Of Australia

Some crops are difficult to grow. Or more precisely, some crops are an absolute pain in the arse to grow, requiring special soil treatments, complicated, high maintenance irrigation systems and plenty of (now) expensive water, pesticides, and so on.

But hemp is a remarkably easy crop to sow and grow, requiring minimal water or pesticides. The stuff will grow in just about any soil type, and there's interesting research that claims hemp is an effective way of sucking salt from heavily salinated soil and even removing heavy metals and other toxic pollutants.

But it's potential as an alternative energy source, bio-fuel, or more precisely biodiesel, should stop Australia from devoting arable land to food crops that would only be used for lesser fuel crops (like palm and sugar) :
* The hydrocarbons in hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas.

* Hemp can be converted to a solid fuel like charcoal and burnt for heat. When burnt, hemp bio-mass can produce steam to power turbines for power generation.

* It can also be used with coal in thermoelectric power plants. Fermented bio-mass (methanol ethanol) is made and used in diesel engines.
We are sitting on a massive oil boom. Hemp oil, that is. You can run your car on it, slather it on your face to cure a huge variety of skin problems, you can cook with it and you can use it as an industrial lubricant. Only a few of the stunning range of uses for hemp oil.

The New South Wales parliament has now passed The Hemp Industry Bill, which will allow 'select' farmers in NSW to grow hemp, though they will have to endure some draconian surveillance due to rancid paranoia over the possibility that some farmers might slip some THC-heavy hemp in amongst the rest of a ultra-low THC-active crop.

From the Daily Telegraph :

The Hemp Industry Bill will allow farmers to grow hemp (cannabis sativa) for use in skin care products, paint, load-bearing masonry, insulation and as an additive to wool, Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said today.

Such production is already permitted in Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, the ACT, Victoria and Western Australia.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries would work with farmers to make sure crops were only grown under a licence by applicants of good repute, Mr Macdonald said.

The legislation would pave the way for a potentially lucrative industrial hemp industry, providing farmers with the additional option of another fast-growing summer crop, Mr Macdonald said.

"This is a direct result of the environmentally friendly nature of industrial hemp and a perceived interest in hemp products in the market," he added.

Despite the negatives, it is surely a good start for a new Australian (hemp) oil boom.

Australia could easily produce (with decent investment) enough hemp bio-mass to fuel cars, trucks and electricity generators, a new source for plastics and paper, as well as producing a highly nutritious food source, still one of the best sources protein available in the world today.

Next comes the revolution of using hemp and THC-active cannabis as a replacement medicine for a vast range of life-saving, and life-extending, pharmaceuticals whose side effects wreak far too much physical damage. But don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

The challenge now is to make sure the hemp industry and hemp market is given the investment it needs to grow and flourish, and to ensure (by limiting regulation) enough freedom and entruepreneurship to stop this miracle crop from being overtly controlled, or contained, by the industries that do not welcome hemp's long-overdue arrival in a competitive marketplace.