Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

Author: Ellijah Pickering

Hemp Biofuel Could Ease Our Dependence On Fossil Fuels

After legalization, hemp biofuel could be a key part of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Researchers have made hemp into two types of biofuel: biodiesel and ethanol.

After legalization, hemp biofuel could be a key part of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

Fuel is everything. America would not be the hyper-efficient economy it is today without something to power our cars, computers, and our Roomba vacuum cleaners. We would be nothing but Neolithic farmers without our electricity and gasoline. But, anything that is truly valuable always comes at a price. Traditional fuel sources hurt the environment, and they’re running out. Air pollution from processing fossil fuels harms the troposphere, and indirectly depletes ozone from our atmosphere. The price for hyper efficiency is evident, which is why alternative fuel sources are becoming so important. Today we focus on a fuel source that hits close to home. That alternative is hemp biofuel.

A biodisel fuel pump at a filling station. Biodiesel is one very appealing option for hemp biofuel.

A biodisel fuel pump at a filling station. Biodiesel is one very appealing option for hemp biofuel.

The cannabis plant is the gift that keeps on givin’. This magic plant gives us CBD oil, THC, hemp fibers and even fuel! Researchers have made hemp into two types of biofuel: biodiesel and ethanol.

HEMP BIODISEL

Biodiesel is produced by the pressing of hemp seeds to extract their oils & fats. After the extraction, the product is then put through more steps to make it into a usable hemp biofuel for your car. If you’re curious to learn about the specifics of biodiesel production, the process is thoroughly explained by hemp.com.

The argument for hemp-derived biodiesel comes down to convenience. If processed correctly, biodiesel can be put into any diesel-powered automobiles. It can be stored and transported like diesel, so there isn’t a need to create a new system for transportation. It even replaces the smell of traditional diesel with the smell of hemp.

USING HEMP TO MAKE ETHANOL

Ethanol is traditionally made from wheat-based crops such as corn and barley. It’s traditionally used as an additive to gasoline, which gave way to our “flex-fuel” vehicles of today. Hemp can be made into ethanol by various forms of fermentation. Using hemp as the main source of ethanol, instead of food crops like wheat & corn has clear advantages. Not using food crops as a fuel source allows more efficiency in food production, and hemp can be grown in lower quality conditions unlike corn or wheat. Hemp-derived ethanol also shares the advantages of transportation and usability as biodiesel.

A row of yellow and green fuel pumps. Hemp biofuel could present more sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels in the near future.

A row of yellow and green fuel pumps. Hemp biofuel could present more sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels in the near future.

HEMP BIOFUEL OFFERS A MORE SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVE

Fuel alternatives like this can seem like a no-brainer to replace our traditional fossil-fuel sources, but there are drawbacks to these alternative techniques.

To set up a large-scale industrial hemp farm, you will experience the same ethical dilemmas that the farming industry faces. Deforestation and pesticide use will increase, and we’ll inevitably replace some of our food-crop land with more hemp-crop land. Farmers can grow hemp biofuel on land that is not fit for other crops. This “marginal land” is essentially land that isn’t tilled and cleared out for farming. Despite the versatility, hemp produces a much bigger harvest in ideal farming settings. Additionally, marginal land is actually home to important plants, trees, and living creatures that are vital to the ecosystem. Read “Is Hemp The Best Biofuel?” from sensiseeds.comfor a more in-depth look into the argument for hemp biofuel.

Clearly, hemp biofuel alone won’t solve our environmental crisis, but we believe it could be part of a transition to a cleaner way of living.

HOW THE AUTO-INDUSTRY ALREADY USES HEMP

While hemp biofuel may not be a popular ralternative just yet, the automotive industry already uses hemp. Automakers weave hemp plastic into a bendable material similar to fiberglass. Almost all European car makers use hemp fibers as interior door panels and trim pieces. And companies like FlexForm technologies operate as a dedicated producer of hemp-fiberglass that they sell to automotive companies to be made into car doors and exterior panels. Cars that feature hemp-based materials include the BMW i8 supercar and the Lotus Evora. The advantages that come with hemp-made materials is that they are lighter, bio-degradable, and comes from a much easier renewable resource. Hemp grows in roughly 3 months while metals take thousands of years to form.

Thanks to continued bipartisan support for hemp legalization paired with a culture that is growing increasingly accepting of the cannabis plant, we’re witnessing the beginning of  hemp revolution. While hemp biofuel can’t solve the entire energy crisis (we believe the answer to that problem will require multiple solutions), it can provide us with a great renewable fuel source in addition to it’s already useful applications.

While we spent our time here discussing hemp biofuel, let’s not forget the other ways people have been using hemp. There’s hemp beer, hemp blankets, and, this reporter’s personal favorite, hemp food! The future is indeed green.

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First CBD Cafe In US Offers Eye-Opening Way To Experience Cannabidiol

GrönCafe, the first CBD cafe in America just opened its doors in Portland, Oregon. The June launch of GrönCafe marks a historic moment for CBD’s rapidly increasing popularity in the U.S.

GrönCafe, the first CBD cafe in America just opened its doors in Portland, Oregon.

The June launch of GrönCafe marks a historic moment for CBD’s rapidly increasing popularity in the U.S.

Portland, Oregon is known for embracing the weird & distinct aspects of life, which is probably why it’s home to the first CBD cafe in the U.S. Oregon is also one of the trailblazer’s when it comes to cannabis, as they were the first state to start decriminalizing in 1973.

Portland’s GrönCafe offers CBD-infused coffee drinks and CBD edibles in an elegant cafe environment. (Courtesy: Grön)

We had the privilege of interviewing the Founder & CEO of Grön, Mrs. Christine Smith, who gave us an insider’s look at the creation of her cafe.

A VISIT TO AMERICA’S FIRST CBD CAFE

Grön is the biggest seller of cannabis edibles in the state of Oregon, best known for their delicious THC-infused chocolates. However, none of the products served at GrönCafe contain THC, the compound in psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) that makes people feel high. Instead, CBD can promote relaxation, ease anxiety, and even relieve some forms of pain.

Located at Grön’s manufacturing facility in southeast Portland, the cafe serves CBD-infused coffee drinks akin to your local coffee shop’s espressos or lattes. Customers can also order all the drinks without the infusion, too. In addition to the coffee drinks, they serve Grön’s original CBD-infused chocolate products. Baristas always encourage first-time buyers to try a variety of products.

WHY CREATE GRÖNCAFE?

Smith moved to Oregon with her husband Jasper (who owned & operated a medical marijuana dispensary at the time) in 1999. After observing his business, she recognized a better way to produce edibles, which at that time were nothing more than chocolates crudely wrapped in cellophane. It’s worth noting that Oregon had just legalized medical cannabis the year before, so the market was still in its infancy.

So in 2014, using her past experience in the medical cannabis business, her background as an architect for over 20 years and the skills she gained from her studies in Denmark, she embarked on her journey with Grön.

In addition to CBD-infused coffee, Portland's GrönCafe offers a selection of gourmet CBD chocolates.

In addition to CBD-infused coffee, Portland’s GrönCafe offers a selection of gourmet CBD chocolates. (Courtesy: Grön)

“I saw a market that had untapped potential, I saw something amazing that many people haven’t seen yet.”

Now, she’s started the CBD cafe as a way for people to get comfortable with using hemp for healing and as a way to introduce people into the many uses of CBD.

She feels strongly that CBD is one of the most powerful natural substances in the world. Smith hopes her CBD cafe can help remove stigma by providing an easy way for people to try CBD. Smith and her team plan to launch other tasty products too.

THE CHALLENGES OF WORKING WITH CBD & CANNABIS

Smith told us that working in this industry can be very challenging because of the complex regulations, even in a progressive state like Oregon.

Business owners in the cannabis industry are operating in a legal grey area. With state and federal regulations constantly changing, keeping up with rule changes is half the business. Smith and her team are constantly jumping through hoops just to operate as a business.

The GrönCafe team, with founder Christine Smith and her husband Jasper at right. Running America’s first CBD cafe presents unique legal challenges. (Courtesy: Grön)

Take banking for example: while Oregon is very progressive in terms of regulating businesses such as Grön, they are still held back by federal legislation. Oregon passed House Bill 4094 into law on April 4, 2016, which protects financial institutions from prosecution if they work with cannabis companies.

Even with this bill this in place, federal legislation requires financial institutions to comply with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (aka FinCEN) regulations, which are a lot of work for the banks and the businesses. Smith noted there’s copious amounts of paperwork needed to simply have a credit/debit card system for payment and online payroll.

Banking regulations also force her to have separate accounts for the THC side of Grön and the CBD side. To add to all this chaos, there are only two credit unions in the entire state of Oregon who are willing to work with marijuana-related businesses. Note that the THC side of the business is much more complicated and requires much more paperwork than the CBD side.

A barista serves coffee with a side of fresh whipped cream in Portland's elegant GrönCafe, a dedicated CBD cafe.

A barista serves coffee with a side of fresh whipped cream in Portland’s elegant GrönCafe, a dedicated CBD cafe. (Courtesy: Grön)

It’s exhausting to jump through these hoops, but such is the price to pay to be a trailblazer. Keep in mind that this is just for the financial side of her business. She must regularly test her products with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and a slew of other government agencies.

SO, YOU WANT TO START YOUR OWN CBD CAFE?

Smith offered us four tips for entrepreneurs who want to start their own CBD cafe:

  1. Pay attention to all laws and regulations. Regulations are constantly in a state of flux on the federal and state levels.
  2. Study European CBD cafes, such as in Germany & Switzerland. Smith made effective use of her travels in Europe, taking the time to study the already-existing CBD cafes. Keep in mind that European countries are often more progressive towards cannabis, hemp and CBD than America.
  3. View CBD as a healing supplement, not simply a food ingredient. CBD is not psychoactive like THC and but has real, measurable effects and side effects. CBD is one of the most useful compounds found in the natural world!
  4. Most importantly, make an awesome product people will enjoy. None of the other tips matter if people don’t want to buy your product.

These rules are simple, but hard to follow.

Grön’s unique CBD cafe also offers a selection of other CBD edibles such as caramel sauce. (Courtesy: Grön)

WAKING UP TO CBD’S POTENTIAL WITH GRÖNCAFE

Christine Smith is a down-to-earth powerhouse of a woman. It was an honor to talk to one of the trailblazers of the CBD revolution.

Smith is doing much more than opening a cafe, she is helping bring CBD into the general public’s eye, making it a mainstream product while offering her customers a delicious and elegant cafe experience. Visit their website and be sure to stop by for a cup of CBD coffee if you’re in the area!

 

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