Hemp could be Alaska's new cash crop

Published: Apr. 11, 2017 at 6:00 PM AKDT
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With the passing of hemp legislation, some residents believe this plant could be Alaska's new cash crop.

"This is a soilless hemp growing medium, they are an industry overseas. 80% of the micro greens grown in Europe and Asia are grown on these soilless hemp growing mediums."

That was hemp advocate, Jack Bennett. According to Bennett there are around 25–hundred products already made from hemp. The plant can be turned into paper, textiles, cement, building materials and even biodegradable plastic.

Currently new legislation is underway to make growing hemp legal in Alaska. This could open thousands of new opportunities for farmers in the last frontier.

"In approximately a hundred day harvest on a hectare of land, it's enough of the woody core of the hempstock that produces the insulation material, to build a thousand square foot shell, the cost is comparable to building with modern building materials."

Bennett, who is building his own hemp home, says insulating with the plant will save thousands in heating costs.

"The savings is in your energy. You will lower your heating cost by at least 70 percent," said Bennett.

During the senate discussions on Monday, State Senator Shelly Hughes mentioned hemp's therapeutic value.

"Not only farmers and ranchers in our state, but a number of other people were interested in developing, using oils to develop medications, lotions, soaps," said Hughes.

CBD, a cannabinoid found in hemp, can have powerful anti–inflammatory, anti–epileptic, anti–depressant, sleep aid and muscle relaxing effects.

The bill to legalize industrial hemp still needs to pass in the house and be approved by the governor.

Bennett is optimistic of the outcome and believes hemp could be a game changer for Alaskans.

"This plant is the tree of life that keeps on giving and giving," said Bennett. "This plant's fiber technology enables us to reverse our harm on earth, and at the end of the day, it enables us to make money. This is not just for our generations but our children's future and the generation after that."