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Cannabis is Being Used to Build Homes

“Hempcrete” turns weed into building materials

(Jacob Maentz/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Until now, the word “weed” within the context of homebuilding has meant something that plagues landscapers or is smoked inside finished homes, not something that builds the houses themselves. But that could be about to change. The New York Times’ Matt A.V. Chaban reports that a new, cannabis-based material called “hempcrete” could be the next trend in homebuilding.

The material has been around since the 1980s, reports Chaban, but it’s enjoying new attention now that hemp is in vogue. Chaban writes that it is made from cannabis, lime and water and contains no more than 0.3 percent THC.

The biomaterial is beloved in other parts of the world for its renewability, stability and sustainability. Producers like Hemp Technologies in Canada tout its energy savings and negative carbon footprint and point out that it doesn’t emit gasses like some synthetic building materials. But Chaban writes that domestic restrictions on hemp production mean that American builders must import it — an expensive proposition compared to other materials.

In fact, it turns out that cannabis already has a larger effect on building and real estate than you might think. National Real Estate Investor’s Robert Carr reports that the growing marijuana industry is contributing to commercial and residential real estate booms in places like Denver, where pot was legalized in 2014 — fueling the need for even more (perhaps hemp-based) building.

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