Rachel Notley announced today that Alberta will be transitioning from mining bitumen to producing ethanol biofuel from hemp plants to help get Canada off hydrocarbons.
“It’s our duty to the future of not only Albertans and Canadians, but also the world,” said the Alberta Premier at a press conference today outside a hemp farm near Vegreville.
“We must take action on climate change in Canada and begin reducing emissions,” continued the Premier. “Hemp represents an entirely carbon neutral source of fuel for domestic use and for export, and will make Canada less reliant on crude oil processing facilities in the US. Hemp-derived methanol will help re-invigorate our agricultural sector not only in Alberta, but across Canada.”
Some political analysts speculate that Notley came to the decision at least in part due to an ongoing dispute with neighbouring British Columbia over a pipeline for Alberta bitumen.
Hemp-derived ethanol is produced through the fermentation of the plant’s stalk and it’s fibrous material. Because of this, one Alberta based cannabis producer says it would also be a good source of extra income for cannabis growers who are currently forced to incinerate their stalks for fear of them being diverted to the thriving black market for useless things that can’t get you high.
“Right now, we have to dispose of all our stalks,” says Bert Chilson, CEO of SunCrop, an Alberta-based medical cannabis producer. “As the price of cannabis continues to fall with legalization, cannabis growers like ourselves will be looking for all kinds of added revenue streams. This could be a huge help for struggling pot growers.”
Alberta hemp activist Winbird Rainstorm says she’s happy to see the Alberta NDP taking leadership on a position she has championed for years.
“Hemp is a magical plant,” says Rainstorm. “It doesn’t require any fertilizers or water or plowing or tilling of the soil, all of which hurts our precious environment. And the tar sands are a horrible, destructive place, and the hemp plant can help those lands heal and return to their natural state.
“Plus, unlike paper production, which relies on harvesting old growth BC redwood, the hemp plant can provide a clean sustainable source of all things we currently get from both petroleum and timber sources, all this while it renders the pharmaceutical industry obsolete!”
A spokesperson for Notley says Alberta will be investing $200 million in job training and equipment retrofitting to help transition the oil sands over to hemp fields.
* Did you know that the satire plant has over 9000 known uses, and more are being discovered every day?
Featured image courtesy of Max and Dee bernt via Flickr.