high hopes for hemp

This “hempcrete” brick is an example of what went into Bob Clayton’s Tarpon Springs house, the first in Florida built of the material. / Photos by J.D. Vivian

Gov. Rick Scott has signed a hemp-related bill, SB 1726, titled Industrial Hemp Pilot Projects. The law, which takes effect July 1, gives the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) the “authorization and oversight of the development of industrial hemp pilot projects at the University of Florida, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and any land-grant university in the state that has a college of agriculture.”

According to the bill that Scott signed, “These universities may develop pilot projects to cultivate, process, test, research, create and market safe and effective commercial applications for industrial hemp in the agricultural sector in this state.”

Hemp is versatile

Bob Clayton advocates strongly for growing the crop in Florida. His “hempcrete” Tarpon Springs house — the first in the state, built in 2014 — meets all construction codes. He spent $65,000 to import the materials from England, since hemp cannot be legally grown in Florida.

Bob Clayton, a retired mechanical engineer, designed his “hempcrete” house to look like any other. / J.D. Vivian

For more information, read “Crop failure: Despite great promise, ramie disappears” at floridafoodandfarm.com/farm/crop-failure-despite-great-promise-ramie-disappears and “High hopes for hemp” at floridafoodandfarm.com/farm/high-hopes-for-hemp.

Five fast facts about hemp (source: Popular Mechanics Magazine‘s February 1938 article “New Billion-Dollar Crop“).

1) “is an easy crop to grow”;
2) “can be grown in any state”;
3) is efficient: “government figures estimate that 10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average pulp land.”
4) “will not compete with other American products”;
5) “has great tensile strength and durability … and is one of the toughest fibers in the world.”