OPINION: Weed: not just for getting high

Multi-faceted plant has many purposes, including biofuel; uses promote sustainability



Weed has many purposes beyond just getting high. It could even be key to fighting climate change!

ANNABELLE PEPIN, Evergreen columnist

The high that people feel from weed feels amazing, but did you know our environment can actually feel the same way from the plant itself?

Fossil fuel is one of the main contributors to climate change and the poor health of our environment. However, there is a potential way to reduce this harmful practice: hemp. 

Fossil fuels are non-renewable, but considering hemp plants are a renewable and raw material that produces high yields of oil and biomass, they could produce biofuel and biodiesel. 

Environmental sustainability is more important than ever before, which is why steering away from fossil fuels and adopting sustainable transportation practices – such as the usage of hemp as biofuel – is so critical.

Katie Johnson, a volunteer at Sunrise Equine Rescue, and emphasizes the medicinal uses of cannabis. Johnson said she uses medical marijuana herself, but also discussed its uses in the veterinary field. 

“In animal care, topical CBD has been the most effective [for skin and healing] for discomfort and a lesser occurrence of topical issues,” she said.

If the plant is flexible enough to heal topical issues, it has the ability to heal our environment. 

The adjusted biomass energy yield of hemp was 120% higher than that of wheat straw in terms of solid fuels, according to a study done by the Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences. 

Essentially, this study concluded that this plant produces higher energy output and is suitable as an energy crop, in turn having the possibility to be suitable enough for biofuel. 

Let us digress for a moment – you might be wondering, what exactly is biofuel? 

Biofuel is an eco-friendly alternative to petrol or diesel in cars and other modes of transportation. The process is executed in an agricultural sense in a fairly short period of time, whereas fossil fuels are made from decomposed materials, taking millions of years to form. 

“Scientists are predicting that we’ll run out of oil to use for gas around the end of the century, which I’m sure you can imagine will be hectic,” said Ellie Watts, freshman environmental science major. “Especially if we don’t have enough alternatives to support a fossil-fuel-free world.” 

Watts’ emphasis on environmental sustainability within her major is a step in the right direction for the future of the planet.

Cannabis can be grown nearly anywhere, which is more convenient and environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. Considering this is a flexible plant in terms of its environment, its cultivation for biofuel could even have the added benefit of creating more agricultural jobs and expanding the workforce.

In fact, as early as 1941 Henry Ford actually invented the idea of a car that would run on hemp fuel. Although this concept has not fully been proven to exist (considering the car was never created), environmentalists are attempting to reinvent this concept with our modern tools and technology. 

Mindful environmental practices are essential for the well-being of our planet – maybe the devil’s lettuce can be used for good after all.