Photo by Vortex Farmacy

Legalizing cannabis and hemp can help stem the tide of global warming.

1. Absorbing CO2

Global warming is linked to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, which, per NASA, is at its highest level in 400,000 years. Fortunately, plants absorb CO2 from the air and produce oxygen via photosynthesis. It’s been reported that each ton of hemp grown absorbs 1.63 tons of CO2. A nationwide hemp-growing program could help neutralize carbon emissions.

2. Ending Deforestation

Not only do trees absorb CO2, but cutting them down releases more CO2 in the atmosphere. Per Scientific American, deforestation accounts for 15 percent of global warming—more than cars and trucks combined (14 percent). Trees also take 25 to 30 years to harvest. It’s time to stop chopping them down and start growing fields of hemp for wood and paper products.

3. Better Fuel

Don’t believe those biased petroleum-industry-backed studies claiming that ethanol, which can be made from fermented hemp stalks, increases CO2 levels. A 2012 study from Argonne National Lab found that using high-level ethanol-blended fuels like E85—85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline—reduces greenhouse-gas emissions by as much as 48 percent.

4. Replacing Plastic

Roughly 6 kilograms of CO2 are generated for every kilogram of plastic manufactured and incinerated. Buffalo Hemp Co. is currently using hemp to produce products like flowerpots and trays, and CEO Denver Mackintosh plans to use hemp to replace more traditional plastic products like utensils and pill bottles by 2018.

5. Cutting Illegal-Grow Emissions

Illegal indoor ganja gardens generate 15 metric tons of carbon emissions annually, equal to the pollution produced by three million cars. Cultivating 1 kilo of cannabis using gas generators to stay off the electrical grid is the equivalent of driving across the country five times. The legalization and regulation of cannabis would create a robust measure of control over pot’s carbon footprint.

RELATED: Hemp Ninja Training—Relaunching an American Industry
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