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On Monday, April 22, 2019, the world will once again celebrate Earth Day, an occasion that reminds us to take care of our planet on which we all depend. Nature is important to our well-being and the gifts it provides for our health, wellness, and balance. The Cannabis Sativa L plant, the scientific name for cannabis, is one such gift. It goes by many names ⎼ marijuana, mary jane, weed, pot, etc. On this upcoming Earth Day, we’re encouraging the Three Wells community to take a moment and enjoy the benefits of this miraculous plant.
The original Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970, resulted from efforts by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. It’s important to remember that at the time, there was no large-scale environmental movement, no Internet, and no Environmental Protection Agency. Earth Day began with Senator Nelson’s idea for “national teach-in on the environment,” and in a bipartisan effort, he enlisted help from Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman who supported conservation issues. It’s estimated that 20 million Americans demonstrated across the country that day to raise awareness of environmental issues. The movement took hold, and within a year, Congress passed the Environmental Protection Act and President Nixon’s administration created the EPA. In 2019, we celebrate the 49th anniversary of Senator Nelson’s original Earth Day, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
Cannabis and Earth Day
For adults who use cannabis or want to do so, Cannabis and Earth Day go hand in hand. With all the new medicinal products available like concentrates and oils, topicals, edibles, and tinctures, it’s easy to forget that they all begin with a hardy plant. Whether it’s an Indica, a Sativa, or a Hemp plant, the compounds in cannabis plants provide medicinal benefits for adults in some form. But it’s also important to know they might actually heal the planet by cleaning up the environment. The plant possesses the ability to absorb minerals and other elements in the surrounding soil, a process known as “phytoremediation.” Studies have shown that hemp, in particular, may function as a natural way to decontaminate soil affected by heavy metals (naturally occurring or not), pesticides, even radiation. Hemp was planted at the infamous Chernobyl nuclear accident site to clean up radiation. In the United States, scientists replaced tobacco with hemp plants in southwest Virginia to aid in repairing environmental damage caused by coal mining. Many advocates called for its use at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after the radiation contamination caused by the Tsunami, but unfortunately, government officials remain wary of cannabis in any form.
Hemp as an Alternative Fuel
Hemp also holds great promise as an alternative biomass fuel. Researchers at the University of Connecticut conducted a study in which hemp oil proved highly effective as a biodiesel fuel, and it passed all the required tests for use as a publically available fuel. With the passage of the 2018 Hemp Farming Act, growing hemp to replace corn-based ethanol may prove profitable as biodiesel fuel. Hemp is easier to cultivate than corn, and as an added bonus, it removes much more carbon dioxide from the air than corn. Hemp is so robust, dense, and grows so quickly that it outpaces weeds, so unlike corn, herbicides are not needed. News reports also indicate that it might be helpful to bees as well.
Green Friendly Products Made from Hemp
Unlike hemp, traditional cannabis plants containing THC remain illegal at the federal level, so large-scale, nationwide cultivation will not occur anytime soon. But the possibilities of hemp-based products continues to rapidly expand. According to the National Hemp Foundation, hemp can be used to manufacture pressboard for construction, flooring, and a variety of other industrial products. Hemp stalks are glued together under pressure to produce a board which is many times more elastic and durable than hardwood.
Hemp fiber can also be made into plastic, which of course strikes fear into the petrochemical industry which currently uses petroleum to create plastics. German car company BMW uses hemp-based biocomposites to construct its i3 electric car. Hemp seed oil also has a multitude of uses in products such as varnishes and lubricants.
Celebrate Earth Day with Cannabis
Cannabis has been part of cultures around the world for thousands of years. Today, we are re-learning about its healing abilities, both physical and mental. It’s also an incredible renewable resource in so many ways. As more and more people discover its potential for a variety of uses, they all benefit from it, as does our planet. The picture from the Apollo 8 moon mission is credited with helping create the environmental movement in our country. Earth Day turns 49 this year, so if you choose to celebrate, pay homage to nature, the planet, and the cannabis plant.
Are you celebrating Earth Day with cannabis? Share some pictures and stories with us!
Karl Phillips writes about the cannabis community from Los Angeles, CA.