By Brooks Mencher
After serving nearly 80 years on narcotics charges, hemp is back, semi-legalized in the 2014 Farm Bill.
Its new age is a chemical renaissance. Experimental medicines extracted from hemp will treat epilepsy, migraine headaches, glaucoma, and diabetic and other nerve pain; there may even be applications for multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. The plant’s rough outer bast fibers, formerly waste, can be used in super-capacitors to store energy for electronic devices; these cooked carbon nanosheets, at least as efficient as current materials including graphene, were unveiled at the annual exposition of the American Chemical Society, held last summer in San Francisco.
More, its fibers and the cellulose-rich stem core are already producing high-impact car doors, higher-efficiency housing insulation and other building materials. And then there are cosmetics, soaps, oils, high-protein food and high omega-3 dietary supplements.