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Iceland to go crazy for hemp?

08.09.2020 - 12:16
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 Mynd: Freyr - rúv
After the issue this spring of a special licence from the health ministry, industrial hemp is now growing extremely well at Grímsnes in South Iceland. The area appears to be an ideal location for the versatile plant, which is closely related to cannabis. One grower tells RÚV Icelanders should start taking hemp seriously, as it has many potential uses.

“This is Fedora 17, a variant of hemp, an industrial hemp which is growing here and flourishing in the rural south, and elsewhere in Iceland right now,” says Kristinn Sæmundsson, who has been growing the plant this summer for the first time.

While it is closely related to cannabis, hemp contains less than 0.2 percent THC, which makes it useless as a drug, though it has many other uses. Kristinn sowed the seeds in June and many of the plants are now over two metres tall. 

“This flower here was planted on 2nd June. And we have looked after it precisely not at all. We’ve not watered, weeded, or fertilised—though there is old cow manure and urine and other stuff that has of course helped it to become so wonderfully beautiful,” Kristinn says. 

The story of hemp cultivation goes back thousands of years and the plant can be used in building materials, clothing, sails, rope, paper, and much more. In the modern context, it also has applications as a replacement for certain plastics and other environmentally-damaging materials. 

As well as the many uses for the fibrous parts of the plant, the leaves are also edible by humans and livestock alike, and the flowers can be used to make tea. 

Kristinn says industrial hemp has been the victim of decades’ worth of prejudice, because many people have linked it to cannabis. 

“I predict that Icelanders, as well as the whole world, are going to start accepting this plant. And that there will be a ‘hemp craze’ here in Iceland, with hemp in everything and people gorging on hemp protein and hemp shakes,” Kristinn says. 

This year’s harvest will be brought in over the coming few weeks and Kristinn says there is already interest from buyers. “It really comes as a surprise how much interest there is, and the variety of uses people are envisaging. It’s just really lovely. It’s really a beautiful plant and people love it,” Kristinn adds. 

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