Some residents believe industrial hemp could be Alaska’s new cash crop with the passing of hemp legislation. Hemp advocate, Jack Bennett stated, “This is a soilless hemp growing medium, they are an industry overseas. Eighty percent of the micro greens grown in Europe and Asia are grown on these soilless hemp growing mediums.” According to Bennett there are around 2,500 products already made from hemp. The plant can be turned into paper, textiles, cement, building materials, and even biodegradable plastic.
New legislation is currently underway to make growing hemp legal in Alaska. This could open thousands of new opportunities for farmers in the last frontier. Bennett said, “In approximately a hundred day harvest on a hectare of land, it’s enough of the woody core of the hempstock that produces the insulation material, to build a thousand square foot shell, the cost is comparable to building with modern building materials.”
Bennett, who is building his own hemp home, says insulating with the plant will save thousands in heating costs. Bennett stated, “The savings is in your energy. You will lower your heating cost by at least seventy percent.” During the recent senate discussions, State Senator Shelly Hughes mentioned hemp’s therapeutic value. She said, “Not only farmers and ranchers in our state, but a number of other people were interested in developing, using oils to develop medications, lotions, soaps.”
A cannabinoid found in hemp, CBD, can have powerful anti–inflammatory, antiepileptic, antidepressant, sleep aid, and muscle relaxing effects. The proposal to legalize industrial hemp still needs to pass in the house and be approved by the governor. Bennett is optimistic of the outcome and believes hemp could be a game changer for Alaskans. Bennett said, “This plant is the tree of life that keeps on giving and giving. This plant’s fiber technology enables us to reverse our harm on earth, and at the end of the day, it enables us to make money. This is not just for our generations but our children’s future and the generation after that.”