Thursday, August 4, 2016
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
By Marc Vartabedian
Beginning Aug. 12, Australian industrial hemp guru Klara Marosszeky will appear at the Trinidad Rancheria amphitheater for a three-day hemp masonry workshop which will include film screenings with the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the rancheria and surrounding communities.
Hemp masonry has been a focus of Marosszeky’s work.
“Hempcrete, which is the area that I specialize in, is a form of construction where the inner woody core of the hemp plant is combined with lime based binders to create durable, thermally effective housing,” Marosszeky said.
Houses, sunglasses, furniture, bikes, boats, and even cars are some of the items Marosszeky said can be made with industrial hemp. In her Australian homeland, she serves as managing director for Australian Hemp Masonry Company, a hemp construction supplier, and has helped advance the industrial hemp industry throughout the country, where it’s legal to grow.
In speaking about hemp-based construction, Marosszeky cited its various advantages.
“Hemp buildings produce excellent indoor air quality,” she said. “This differentiates it from most traditional masonry construction, such as bricks and concrete which are non-breathable so they encourage mould growth and this in turn is responsible for many of the allergies that have become so commonplace.”
Annalisa Rush, who’s helping to organize the visit, said the events are largely based around the promotion of sustainability.
“Hemp is a great resource crop,” Rush said. “It’s a non-psychoactive fiber crop. It’s an excellent option for construction and a great crop for overall sustainability.”
Marosszeky will make her first stop in Richmond on Friday for a two-day conference titled “International Soil, Not Oil.”
“We’re very excited to have her,” Rush said. “It will be very educational.”
Despite only containing small traces of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis sativa plant, hemp production in the U.S. has been banned under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, according to advocacy group CA-Hemp Director Brian Webster.
“The government is still treating hemp like it’s radioactive,” Webster said.
Executive Director of Hemp Industries Association Eric Steenstra said hemp can’t be legally grown on a commercial level in the country and thus all of the hemp in California has been imported from mainly Canada, China and Europe.
Steenstra said this hemp makes its way into the country through an exception in the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 that allows for stalks without leaves, fiber from the stalk, and sterilized seeds — the parts of hemp which are useful on an industrial and food level. “You obviously can’t grow hemp without the other parts,” Steenstra said, explaining why hemp products are available despite the growing ban.
According to Steenstra, California is one of the biggest consumers of hemp products in the country, making the state an attractive educational location for Marosszeky. Steenstra also said a number of states, including California, have launched pilot growing and research programs, a move he said was a step in the right direction.
Marosszeky said she’s excited to spread awareness of industrial hemp in California, touting its long-term benefits for the environment.
“We would be crazy to ignore industrial hemp’s capacity for carbon sequestration at this stage of the game,” she said.