Cannabis has a long and varied history, full of practical, industrial uses from clothing to rope. And, while recent focus has been on the plant’s psychoactive effects and medical applications, an influx of cannabis focused scientists and entrepreneurs are sparking a new marijuana revolution. Here are 7 futuristic ways cannabis could be used to save the planet.
-TJ Miller, Big Hero 6
Traditional plastic is derived from petroleum, or crude oil. Bioplastics are a biodegradable plastic created from biological substances, like corn, soy, or—as luck would have it—cannabis.
Not only can cannabis be used to create plastic, but the 100% biodegradable product is also stronger than currently used bioplastics.
If cannabis can replace corn in the production of bioplastics, could it be used as a new biofuel, a la corn ethanol? Yes. Yes it can. At least according to the results of a recent study out of the University of Connecticut. Instead of discarding the seeds that house the plant’s natural oils, cannabis farms could use the “waste” to power their grow.
It isn’t clear if cannabis fuel is economically viable, but it may not be long before our cars are using more cannabis than we are.
In the same vein as using cannabis as a fuel source, hemp could be used to create superfast supercapacitors. The science is a bit complicated, but researchers at the University of Alberta/National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) NRC, and Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures, have developed a process to convert hemp waste into a graphene replacement.
Why is this big news? While graphene costs up to $2,000 per gram, hemp nanomaterials could be manufactured for less than $500 per ton.
4) Food for Food (Livestock Feed)
Cows need a lot of water. One study suggested that you would have to stop showering for one full month to save as much water as you do by eating just one pound less beef. A lot of resources go toward feeing our livestock, as well. Cows, chickens, and pigs (oh my) could be fed—at least in part—by cannabis-based foods, in place of their current corn-heavy diet.
5) Pet Medicine
Some pet owners will balk at the suggestion that cannabis could be used as a medicine for their fur-babies. But, small and careful doses administered appropriately (don’t let your dog nom on your weed drawer) have proven to be effective in treating a variety of pain and ailments in pets. If you want to pamper your puppy padawan, medicinal pet cannabis may be the solution.
It may be some time before everyone’s ready to eat cannabis-based foods, but hemp could still become a significant source of nutrition for the future population of Earth as a readily available protein supplement. If we ever run out of cows, we know where to turn.
7) Building Materials
Using cannabis as a building source isn’t a new concept—Huffington Post wrote about hempcrete bricks more than two years ago, and hemp has been used in home construction in Europe for decades. Studies show hempcrete is not only strong and breathable, but it—somewhat ironically—offers greater fire resistance than many standard building materials. Not to mention it could reduce the need for wood as a building material, helping curb deforestation.
Hempcrete won’t really take off in the US until cannabis is legalized at a national level. Once cannabis is descheduled, though, it’s only a matter of time before you or a friend is living in a hemp house.
Have you heard of any other futuristic uses of cannabis we forgot in our list? Let us know in the comments.
As they’ll say in the future, “Live long and prosper.” Or, as they said a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, “Shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level!”
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