In the period post-disaster, Hemp can be used for several purposes. Not only does it remove heavy metals and radiation from the soil through a process called phytoremediation (Linger et al, 2002), but it can be used to create sustainable structures once it is harvested and transformed into hemp-crete (Stevulova et al, 2013). Ukraine has even used hemp in areas affected by the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown so that one day the land may become safe and re-usable, but until such a time, the hemp is harvested for biofuel (Das et al, 2017). Pelletized hemp can also be utilized in cleaning up oil spills, as the woody component of the stalks are able to absorb up to 50% of their weight in moisture (Shazad, 2011), which can drastically reduce the amount of contaminant that spreads to surrounding areas as well as making cleaning affected areas much easier. As such, it is postulated that another use of industrial hemp could be as an environmental barrier to potential flood regions that are not frequently inundated (Beckerman, 2017).
Utilizing sustainable crops such as hemp post-disaster also provides a means of income for those who choose to farm the hemp, contributing overall to the community’s potential for resilience in both the environmental and economic realms, which is a key component in ensuring that the community is more resistant to disasters in the future. In short, hemp can be a true asset to those attempting to mitigate risks, respond to disasters effectively in the long term, and ensure a more whole recovery effort for both the population and environment involved.
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Das, Lalitendu, et al. “Industrial hemp as a potential bioenergy crop in comparison with kenaf, switchgrass and biomass sorghum.” Bioresource Technology, vol. 244, 2017, pp. 641– 649., doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2017.08.008.
Linger, P., et al. “Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) growing on heavy metal contaminated soil: fibre quality and phytoremediation potential.” Industrial Crops and Products, vol. 16, no. 1, 2002, pp. 33–42., doi:10.1016/s0926-6690(02)00005-5.
Shahzad, Asim. “Effects of water absorption on mechanical properties of hemp fiber composites.” Polymer Composites, vol. 33, no. 1, Dec. 2011, pp. 120–128., doi:10.1002/pc.21254.
Stevulova, Nadezda, et al. “Lightweight Composites Containing Hemp Hurds.” Procedia Engineering, vol. 65, 2013, pp. 69–74., doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2013.09.013.