The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is funding a research project looking into the sustainable production of hempcrete, a hemp-based mixture that’s better for the environment than traditional concrete.
According to a notice published on the EPA website, the agency awarded a roughly $12,000 grant to a student-led research team at the University of California, Riverside, to support a study on the use of hemp as an “industrially relevant renewable fiber for construction.”
A 2nd #EPAp3 student team @UCRiverside will study hemp fiber properties and ultimately produce hempcrete as a lighter, stronger, and more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fossil-based concrete. https://t.co/tmt8uLX66i #STEM
— US EPA Research (@EPAresearch) March 29, 2019
But while hempcrete is a natural alternative to fossil-based concrete, the most common method for pulping the crop to use its fibers is wasteful, according to a summary of the study. The so-called Kraft pulping process—which involves treating hemps stalks with hot water, sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide to separate the fibers—produces seven tons of toxic waste for every ton of pulp extracted, it says.
With that in mind, the EPA grant will go toward the development of hempcrete using a more sustainable pulping process. Researchers will use co-solvent enhanced lignocellulosic fractionation technology “to allow for much cleaner and faster pulping of hemp fibers without the production of [toxic waste].”
“Our project goal is to produce hempcrete, as a lighter, stronger, and more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fossil-based concrete.”
Instead of a multi-step pulping procedure, the hemp fibers will be extracted by simply applying tetrahydrofuran, a renewable organic compound, and diluted sulfuric acid to the hemp stalks. The EPA said this mechanism “is comparable to that of the Kraft pulping process while also producing a useful fermentable sugar solution as a byproduct, thus allowing more of the original hemp to be used before waste treatment.”
Once the hemp fibers are extracted, they can be added to cement as a “reinforcing agent” or used on their own for drywall or “structural reinforcements.”
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized industrial hemp at the federal level, farmers and manufacturers are exploring the crop’s potential for a variety of industries, including construction. Hempcrete has even intrigued allies of President Donald Trump who reached out to a Kansas-based hemp business to learn how the crop could be used to build a proposed border wall.
Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.
Dogs Treated With Cannabis Oil Experience Less Frequent Seizures, Study Finds
Dogs with epilepsy experience considerably fewer seizures when treated with CBD oil, a new study published in the journal Pet Behaviour Science found.
The small study—which followed three dogs receiving hemp-derived CBD treatment over the course of two months, indicates that dogs respond to the cannabis compound in a way that’s similar to humans.
The dogs ranged in age and breed. One was a three-year-old Labrador Retriever that suffered seizures spaced out one month apart on average, another was an 11-year-old Papillon that experienced seizures every two to three months and the last was a 10-year-old Chihuahua that has infrequent seizures about twice a year.
For the experiment, each dog was treated with CBD twice a day on an empty stomach. The findings are based on reports from the owners, two out of three of whom said the treatment improved their dog’s condition. The Papillon’s owner said the dog’s condition was unchanged.
“The owner [of the Labrador Retriever] reported that the dog slept longer and barked less in the daytime, even when other dogs were excited, during the first two weeks than in the preceding weeks,” the study authors wrote. “Overall, the owner felt that the dog showed improvement.”
“The owner [of the Chihuahua] felt that seizure-like behavior during the attacks had decreased slightly with treatment,” they wrote. “The owner also reported that the dog showed less aggression toward familiar people, such as the owner’s children.”
While the sample size of the study is particularly small, making it difficult to draw broad conclusions, the researchers said “seizure frequency improved considerably and owners reported a positive impression” of the CBD treatment.
It’s not clear if the same biochemical mechanisms that make CBD an effective treatment for epilepsy in humans produced the effects in the dogs. It’s possible that, because seizures can be triggered by anxiety, the same “anxiolytic effect may attenuate the symptoms of epilepsy in dogs as well as humans.”
“Further research is needed for better understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of CBD treatment,” the researchers wrote.
Last year, a separate study determined that CBD can alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.
Study Finds Marijuana Motivates People To Exercise, Smashing Lazy Stoner Stereotype
Most people who use marijuana report that consuming before or after exercising improves the experience and aids in recovery, according to a new study. And those who do use cannabis to elevate their workout tend to get a healthier amount of exercise.
Researchers at the University of Colorado surveyed more than 600 marijuana consumers in states where it is legal to assess how people use cannabis in relation to exercise. Their results, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, poke yet another hole in the lazy, couch-locked stoner stereotype.
Almost 500 participants said they endorse using marijuana one hour before, or up to four hours after, exercising. And based on data from the questionnaire, those who did use cannabis in that timeframe worked out longer than consumers who didn’t pair the activities. Specifically, those who engaged in co-use worked out an average of 43 minutes longer for aerobic exercise and 30 minutes longer for anaerobic exercise.
What’s behind the trend?
There are a few known barriers to exercise that researchers have identified: a lack of motivation, difficult recovery after working out and low enjoyment of the activity. Cannabis seems to help lift those barriers for some individuals.
Seventy percent of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that “cannabis increases enjoyment of exercise,” 78 percent said that marijuana “enhances recovery from exercise” and just over 50 percent said that it “increases motivation.”
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to survey attitudes and behavior regarding the use of cannabis before and after exercise, and to examine differences between cannabis users who engage in co-use, compared to those who do not,” the study authors wrote. “Given both the spreading legalization of cannabis and the low rates of physical activity in the US, it behooves public health officials to understand the potential effects—both beneficial and harmful—of cannabis use on exercise behaviors.”
While it might seem counterintuitive given how cannabis consumers have typically been portrayed in media, there’s a growing body of research showing that many marijuana enthusiasts engage in active lifestyles and that cannabis is associated with positive health outcomes. For example, another recent study found that people who use marijuana are less likely to be obese compared to non-users.
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.
Another Federal Agency Wants You To Stop Calling About A Marijuana-Related Job
Six days after posting a notice that calls for a contractor to prepare and distribute research drug products like marijuana cigarettes, a federal agency posted an update, emphasizing that private citizens are not being encouraged to apply for a casual joint-rolling job.
Why? Well, it might have something to do with various viral articles reporting on the opening—and readers who then volunteer for the role.
On Monday, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) added an unambiguous message at the top of the notice: “THE FOLLOWING IS A PRE-SOLICITATION NOTICE and is NOT ADVERTISEMENT FOR EMPLOYMENT.”
The situation seems similar to another recent example that prompted the Houston division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ask private citizens to stop calling about a contractor opening to incinerate thousands of pounds of cannabis per hour.
The division wrote last month that “misleading articles” about the position “resulted in an influx of calls from citizens.”
Several recent misleading articles alleging #DEAHouston is looking for Houstonians to burn Marijuana have resulted in an influx of calls from citizens. This solicitation was targeted for a large scale licensed vendor, not private citizens. https://t.co/GSygqBBWKB
— DEAHouston (@DEAHOUSTONDiv) March 29, 2019
“This solicitation was targeted for a large scale licensed vendor, not private citizens,” they wrote.
But according to NIDA, their problem isn’t quite as severe. In an email to Marijuana Moment, a representative of the agency said it has “only received a few public inquiries.” The spokesperson did not respond to a follow up question about the reasoning behind the update.
For serious candidates, the position isn’t as simple as rolling a massive amount of joints. The contractor must have “the capability to analyze and characterize various drugs of abuse including cannabinoids and other research chemicals” and also “acquire, develop, and produce marijuana and nicotine research cigarettes of varying strengths and specifications.”
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.