6 Ways to Use Hemp and Marijuana That You Never Expected

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Obama Admin. Unveils New Policy Easing Medical Marijuana ProsecutionsThe cannabis plant is one of the most versatile materials that can be found on planet Earth. Aside from what people typically associate with it — the act of altering one’s state of consciousness — cannabis also has myriad other practical and economical uses. But for generations now, fear-mongering, paranoia, and misinformation have forced its use to remain under the radar or completely out of the question.

Now that the stigma surrounding marijuana and hemp is subsiding to some degree, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs are finally getting the chance to put the plant to work. For decades, the marijuana plant — and its cousin, hemp — were demonized by a potent blend of big business and political propaganda, mostly because it presented a large threat to some of the established powers. We can look at films like Reefer Madness to see how the plant was portrayed at the time, and compare it to what we know now to see just how ridiculous the whole concept of prohibition has been — not to mention costly.

Marijuana and hemp are not exactly the same, although they are very closely related. Essentially, hemp does not contain the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, THC. Both do come from the same plant family, and the two terms are generally used to differentiate between uses. For example, hemp is the term applied to cannabis when industrial uses are being applied, whereas marijuana is used to refer to medical or recreational use through smoking or ingesting.

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We all know that marijuana and hemp can be used to create clothing and edibles, but what about some of its lesser known applications? There are a lot, and most are just beginning to be explored by entrepreneurs and inventors. Some are already on their way toward widespread adoption.

Here are six little known or unexpected uses for marijuana and hemp that may break into the mainstream in coming years.

1. FuelJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

Imagine piloting down the highway behind the power of cannabis! That’s right, similar to plants like corn, cannabis can be used to develop biofuels to power automobiles, generators, and really anything else you can imagine. The University of Connecticut has been hard at work studying whether or not the fuel is actually viable, and the results are showing that it indeed is. One of the major problem with current biofuel production is that it often takes more energy to create it than you get in the end, but cannabis may be able to change that.

One more piece of good news: it won’t take much to get the cannabis biofuel industry started. “If someone is already growing hemp, they might be able to produce enough fuel to power their whole farm with the oil from the seeds they produce. The fact that a hemp industry already exists means that a hemp biodiesel industry would need little additional investment,” says professor Richard Parnas of UConn.

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