Hemp's need for Open Source Research
04 Aug 2016 - By mr.berqstrom

It is time for me to put aside my criticism on Open Source and try to look for solutions. Some people might be provoked by the argument in favour of the blunt user in my previous 'blog post' (Creative Commons might become a copyright mess). But this is a necessary process to create further development, by investigating "both side of the coin". As established, there is clearly challenges with Open Source solutions, that's why I now will present to you a field where Open Source might be the key.

When reading some updates on the development of the Hemp Industry, I came across four sentences of great interest, published on the product webpage for The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (quote as follow):
  1. The economic reality of hemp is that hemp cannot necessarily compete with waste products (wood, straw, stover etc.) on price.
  2. Products such as biofuels or Medium Density Fiberboard are technically possible, but competitively cost–challenged.
  3. A processing challenge for the hemp industry has been that while every other industry has developed since 1938, hemp has not had the chance or the funding to develop the infrastructure to process the harvested raw material into usable and valuable raw materials. 
  4. Establishing commercial processing for hemp fibres is, in some ways, a game of catch up.
As far as I can read from the four bulletpoints, is it necessary for the Hemp Industry to "catch up" in the development and reserach behind the products. It is in this research area I see Open Source as a potential platform to assist with knowhow for the industry, so it can be able to compete on prices with established products. The other argument for for this is to make amends with one of the biggest mistakes in history, when the commodity for centuries were condemned and left outside general competiton in established marketplaces. The world today is far behind finding real solutions for the climate change. Hemp have the potential to be one of the main contributing factors, for handling it. But this can only happen if politicians all over the world are willing to face the misconception towards hemp and accept it as "the green revolution", capable of providing the human race with endless products families.

Hemp Usage
The Very Useful Industrial Hemp, digital poster, Source:
Hemp-Chart digital poster, first publication unknown

One of the advocates for this perception is Jack Herer, known for the book The Emperor Wears No Clothes (1985). As an activist his voice has been restrained, perhaps even understandable thinking about the times when the book were published. But today, three decades later, the need for his (point of) view is required, if the Paris Agreement is supposed to be something more than nice words and ironed suits. Canada on the other hand, is one of the few countries leading the way for hemp- driven solutions. But to push this further is knowlege essential and time is scarce. That's why I suggest for the Open Source (hardware) community to embrace hemp as their material. This is one of the few arenas where Open Source can develop freely and on its own, with little (or no) intrusion from other industries. Furhtermore can the plant grow alomost anywhere in the world, making it into a truly global Open Source project, with an aim to solve the climate crisis and create a new green fresh start for the planet Earth.

The first place to start, in my opinion, would be to follow up on the statement by The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, saying that; "Products such as biofuels or Medium Density Fiberboard are technically possible, but competitively cost–challenged". When the necessary reasearch in this field, to create the systems and machinery needed for producing biofuels and fiberboard from hemp will take place, it should be done as Open Source. This would lower the development time (and cost) drasticly, since this is the part in the hemp processing where it's all about 'catching up', using known techniques. It would require people with a particular skill sets, willing to invest in new business models, built on the Open Source philosophy. But by bringing the chart above (the very useful industrial hemp) one step at a time away from the dream and making it into reality, the green revolution will quietly have begun.