PHOENIX — When you're as invested in the hemp business as Christopher Martin is, you've heard all of the jokes and all of the objections.
"I use it to my advantage," said Martin. "I tell everybody hemp is the gateway conversation."
Martin believes it's the gateway to greener building.
"I'd love to walk into Home Depot and see hemp board instead of drywall," said Martin.
But building homes out of hemp? Yes, it's happening.
A Florida man built what he believes is the first hempcrete home in the state in 2014. Hempcrete consists of the center of the stalk, water, and lime mixed together. Over time the hemp will petrify and the lime will turn back into stone.
"Our mentors are building hundreds of them in Europe and have for 20 years," said John Patterson, owner of the company Tiny Hemp Houses, based in Colorado.
On Saturday, Patterson will teach a class on how to make hempcrete at Hempful Farms, the cafe and shop Martin owns in north Phoenix.
According to the American Hemp Association, one acre of hemp provides as much paper as 4.1 acres of trees. Plus, trees take decades to grow. Hemp only takes about four months.
In case you were wondering, hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, the marijuana compound that makes you high.
"This is just a renewable energy source that everybody needs to understand and not be afraid of," said Martin. "That stigma that has followed hemp and cannabis around is getting old. I think it's almost laughable at this point. Can we get past all that stuff and just move forward? We have a plant right in front of us that is very sustainable."
If you would like to learn more, or register for the workshop at Hempful Farms, click here.