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Montana AG Network: Using hemp in construction

Posted at 9:01 AM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 11:25:58-05

GREAT FALLS — No matter where you look, hemp is all the rage, whether it be CBD oil, clothing, or even paper -- the possibilities seem limitless as to what this crop could can be used for.

Although it may seem fresh and new, the idea of using hemp in construction dates back thousands of years to the Romans and Egyptians.

“There was a huge boom of hemp back in the 30s. Popular mechanics called it the next billion-dollar industry to be applied to a wide range of industries,” architect Kirby Hancock said.

But that was soon swept under the rug during the marijuana prohibition era. Now, through new research, the possible applications for this crop are growing again.

“I've got a background in cabinetry and woodworking, and in my early 20s I was doing a fair amount of finish work in that cabinet shop and it nearly killed me,” Hancock recalled.

“I was literally was coughing up blood and that was kind of an eye opener to the toxicity's in so many construction materials we just take for granted,” she continued. “And so, that was kind of the start of my search for healthier materials.”

Through a collaboration with the Montana Farmers Union, transformative ecologies and the Montana State University, research is being done on how hemp can be used in various construction applications.

“As an architect, I want to find better solutions for people and how we build. And this is in my mind one of the best solutions we have at the moment,” Hancock told MTN News.

The Montana Farmers Union says they are encouraged by what this technology could provide to both the construction industry and Montana agriculture.