Despite the problems brought on by virus, a call to till on

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By Steve Allin

It is scary how things can change in just a few weeks. Unless you were living in China during January, most of us thought the outbreak of a new virus in a city called Wuhan, which most of us had probably never heard of, would be over in a matter of weeks and would not affect much of the rest of the world. How wrong we were!

I was no different. As director of the International Hemp Building Association (IHBA), I was not only distracted by the importance of the work we in the Association were doing but I thought the implications for our Symposium, to be held in the UK in late March, would be only a slight problem. However the disaster unfolded very quickly, and by late February it was becoming clear that this situation was getting out of control.

What can we do?

As governments around the world struggle to come to terms with collapsing economies, we in the hemp world are asking: What can we do?

I am not pretending that I knew any of this was coming, but having been a cannabis and environmental activist for most of my life, the implications of humanity’s overshooting the carrying capacity of our planet are not a surprise.

Despite the plethora of claims that the virus is part of some conspiracy, I am sure it is only the result of our complete disregard for our biosphere that has caused this new mutation of an animal born virus to jump to humans.

We should remember that the original hemp activism was born out of a wish to heal the Earth. Now is the time to remember this, and use our knowledge to overcome the problems this pandemic will create, both now and in the future.

Optional luxuries

For now we know that hemp foods can provide a concentrated nutrition and give our immune systems a boost to help resist the disease, but this will only be a solution to those who can afford such luxuries. We are not yet at a point where hemp foods are an option for all.

Cannabidiol has been suggested as an anti viral substance but we have no proof of that, and this is another contentious subject.

In a recent presentation called “Time To Get Serious or what has CBD got to do with Hemp Building?” I introduced the concept of Complex Bio-engineered Device to describe the structure of hemp hurd and how it works to improve our building material.

Not that CBD

I talked about Cannabis Building Design to illustrate how we have much to learn about vernacular architecture in the way we design homes built with natural materials such as hempcrete. I ended my talk with another use of the letters — how we might address Climate Break Down, and that if we don’t, it will be Complete Bloody Disaster!

By saying this I did not mean that I thought CBD was not a medical or dietary tool we might use to improve our health or immune systems. I was just looking at the sudden frenzy around the substance.

However like toilet roll, CBD is a luxury many cannot afford (I’m thinking of recent memes of a child in the ghetto asking what is toilet paper?). The extraction of most isolated elements of the cannabis flower are not cheap, especially if they are to be of either high quality or quantity in products available to the public. The recent reports in British and Irish media concerning the difference between stated and actual amounts of CBD in several brands on sale around the world are disappointing to say the very least.

Back to tilling the land

In the immediate future in the Northern Hemisphere it is time to start tilling the land and sowing the seed, and hopefully this will continue as previously, if not to an even greater extent. Despite the damage, the almost complete halt to economic activity has caused, we will still need hemp crops and the developments around harvesting and processing that were already underway.

Now more than ever we need to support all those in the hemp industry. It is time to make it fashionable to wear that hemp t-shirt that is softening with age. To push for legislation that allows home production so we can eat more Hemp and less meat. To repair or improve our homes with hemp materials so they will last for at least another generation. All these actions will hopefully be possible as we emerge from this disaster and the contagion is past.

However it will not be easy especially if we don’t face the fact that there will be no return to “normal.” There’ll be no quick recovery, but recovery is possible with the fantastic tool we have to hand: Hemp!

Steve Allin, Director of the International Hemp Building Association.

Hemp veteran Steve Allin pioneered the International Hemp Building Association (IHBA), which he serves as director. An author, teacher and consultant on ecological building, he has been building with hemp and promoting hemp’s use in construction all over the world for the last 20 years.

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