Germany approaches "Climate Hemp" as a Sustainable Material of the Future

Cem Özdemir plans to change the laws for industrial hemp or so-called ‘climate hemp’, as it could be an essential building block for a climate-neutral future.

Germany approaches "Climate Hemp" as a Sustainable Material of the Future

On the road to a climate-neutral future, Germany is focussing on a promising and sustainable material: industrial hemp, also sometimes referred to as ‘climate hemp’. Cem Özdemir, German Minister of Agriculture and member of the Green Party, believes that hemp could play a crucial role in a sustainable future.

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Hemp has a long history of use in various sectors, including shipbuilding and car manufacturing. Today, hemp is being re-evaluated as a resilient and renewable resource that could serve as an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic and steel in many different industries such as automotive and construction.

However, the path to wider integration of industrial hemp in Germany is hampered by regulatory challenges. Currently, industrial hemp often faces the same strict regulations as its cousin cannabis due to its THC content - even though the psychoactive content in industrial hemp is negligible (less than 0.3%). This has complicated the legal situation for farmers and companies interested in growing and distributing this low-THC hemp.

Speaking at a parliamentary evening hosted by the Cannabis Industry Association (BvCW), Minister Özdemir has announced plans to remove the “intoxication clause”/”Rauschklausel” from the Cannabis Act (CanG). This clause previously restricted the cultivation and distribution of industrial hemp to cases where abuse for intoxication purposes could be definitively ruled out. With this amendment, Özdemir wants to simplify the regulations and boost the industrial hemp sector.

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Marijn Roersch van der Hoogte, Vice President of the Cannabis Industry Association, agreed with Özdemir's assessment and referred to the numerous possible applications of hemp and its sustainable potential as a fibre composite material in the automotive industry, as insulation material and hempcrete in the construction industry, or as biodegradable plastic, which underlines the need for legislative reforms to realise this potential.

Valley of windmills

Since 2019, the Cannabis Industry Association (BvCW), the cannabis industry's largest advocacy organisation in Germany, has been at the forefront of advocating for reforms in the hemp market.

Through reforms such as this planned one, the prospect of hemp being one of the cornerstones of a sustainable and environmentally friendly industrial future seems increasingly realistic. Such changes could have a significant impact on the way the industry approaches material science and environmental responsibility, potentially setting a global precedent for the shift to greener alternatives.