Hemp as Building material: A Sustainable Cash Crop for struggling Guanacate Farmers

Costa Rican lawmakers considering hemp cultivation, processing

Costa Rican lawmakers have put forward a draft law to legalize the cultivation, production and sale of industrial hemp and medicinal marijuana.

The proposal was published last month after it was approved by lawmakers on the Environment Commission of the Legislative Assembly, online news outlet El Mundo CR reported.

The draft law comes after the launch of a project last year by the country’s Ministry of Foreign Trade to examine the commercial benefits of developing the hemp industry, according to an analysis from Valeria Grant, an associate at the Central American law firm Arias.

According to Grant, the bill would:

  • allow Costa Ricans to cultivate, produce and market industrial hemp, its products and by-products without any previous or extra authorization. Those in the cannabis space would be subject to an official registration and “periodic inspections by the competent authorities.”
  • require three kinds of pre-authorization for the production of “psychoactive cannabis”:
  • A license for cultivation, production and related activities from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.
  • A license for the manufacture and processing of medicines, cosmetics, essential oils and other products for medical or therapeutic use from the Ministry of Health.
  • A permit for research or university teaching activities from the Ministry of Health.
  • impose a 5% tax on net income for all cannabis industry businesses.

    allow domestic production by individuals for medical or therapeutic purposes, so long as certification of the patient’s condition is obtained under Ministry of Health guidelines.

    The legislation foresees the creation of regulations within six months of the law’s passage to determine the fees for licenses and permits; a traceability system coordinated by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the Costa Rican Institute on Drugs; and the registries of producers and manufacturers.

Included in the bill is a section on crime and how to handle violations of the law, as well as a chapter on incentives for producer organizations and small businesses, Grant wrote.

According to the El Mundo CR report, the bill requires a final review and approval before being brought forward for debate in a plenary session.

There is an almost infinite number of reasons why industrial hemp can be a sustainable solution to many environmental and economic issues encountered by most countries, including Costa Rica. Hemp plants are extremely sturdy, and can grow in virtually any type of climate. They are resistant to pests, can be grown several years in a row in the same location, and can thrive in almost any type of soil.

And while the economic benefits brought by all the aforementioned applications of hemp are fairly evident, the environmental impact of growing hemp on a large scale and on a long term basis could make the greenhouse effect currently affecting the planet on many levels, a thing of the past.

A patented product called “HempWood” is made out of compressed hemp pulp fibers, held together with a soy-based glue.

While that may sound like some newfangled version of particle board, it’s not.

It looks and feels like oak, but is actually 20 percent harder than the famous hardwood tree.

It also grows 100 times as fast. While it takes an oak tree at least 6 decades to mature, it takes hemp 6 months.

As a cash crop that grows easily in our Guanacaste environment the final push to make this bill law is slowly wending its way through the Costa Rican political process with many hopeful eyes marking its path including us. 





Thats good news for oak trees, as they are among the most endangered trees in the planet because of the high demand for solid oak furniture.

The owner of the new start up company Fibonacci, Greg Wilson,  was a pioneer in the bamboo flooring industry before hemp became legal.

The company uses technology popularized by China’s strand-woven bamboo industry, in addition to technology developed at Wilson’s other company SmartOak, which creates engineered wood products using logs that would otherwise be converted to wood chips.

HempWood will be used to make blocks, boards, flooring, cutting boards and skateboards, all at prices far cheaper than oak, the company said.

The company will be headquartered in Kentucky, where more than 40,000 acres of hemp are already being cultivated.

The question of industrial hemp and its possible benefits has been pondered by many governments in recent years. Not only has the international debate around cannabis legalization has caused a newfound awareness for the Cannabis Sativa plant as a whole, but also, the current state of agriculture as well as the food industries have prompted environmental activists to seek new responsible methods for growing versatile, transformable crops.

Industrial hemp, currently unauthorized in many countries, used to be widely grown all over the world. But for many reasons that mostly have to do with its psychoactive cousin, the multi-purpose crop has stopped being among the most beneficial natural resources used by humans during the last couple centuries.

Yet, this decision is far from being anecdotic; indeed, it is hard to ignore the multiple uses that can be made of hemp in many major industries that are currently in need of sustainable solutions to survive.

Hemp fiber

Hemp fibers have always been used by human civilizations; their strength, absorbing qualities, and resistance to pests and diseases have made them an ideal material for textiles. This discovery was put into practice in many ancient civilizations, but the diversification of it did not stop there. For centuries, hemp fibers have been used for the manufacturing of construction materials, cordage, and paper. It is even possible nowadays to still find books made out of hemp paper, notably finest-quality Bibles.

Hemp fibers are also used in combination with other plant-based fibers to create bio plastic and composite materials. Like numerous other types of bio plastic, hemp plastic is biodegradable. This constitutes an undeniable asset when considering the tremendous amounts of non-recyclable materials that get discarded on a daily basis everywhere on the planet, an asset that could make hemp fiber an important item in the Costa Rican plan of being the first carbon neutral country by year 2021.

Hemp oil

There have been many discussions around hemp oil as of late, especially in the food and health communities, since hemp has recently been dubbed a “super food”, along with other vegetables and seeds. The main reason why that is – besides its wonderful nutty, grassy taste – is the high nutritional value of it, due to its 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids. In other words, a perfect match with the balance required by the human body, with only one tablespoon per day covering an individual’s needs in said essential fatty acids.

Hemp seeds

The “super food” trend could not have carried on without considering hemp seeds. Indeed, there are multiple ways to consume them. They can be eaten in many different states, including raw, grounded and sprouted, but can also be incorporated in hemp-based tofu, butter, flour, or milk.

As hemp seeds are also rich in proteins, they are heavily used in the health and sports communities, as well as in the vegan community, as protein powder.


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