22 August 2001
Marijuana car on ban-ending trip

By FARMERS WEEKLY staff

A CAR running on biodiesel derived from hemp oil has completed a 10,000-mile round trip of the USA to promote the idea.

The drivers of the modified Mercedes are looking to overturn a US ban on the production of the crop, worth $100 million a year in US trade of manufactured goods.

The ban is in force because of its narcotic relative marijuana. But technologies exist that would make hemp oil economically competitive with petrol, they claim.

“Hemp out-produces virtually every other biomass crop that can be widely grown,” Grayson Sigler, one of the drivers, is reported as saying.

Production of the crop in the UK is strictly licensed but perfectly legal – its strong fibres have uses such as paper production, door panels and loft insulation.

But varieties of hemp for producing oil here would have to be much earlier-maturing than at present, says Hemcores Ian Low.

They would also need to be higher yielding to compete with the output of oilseed rape. “With more breeding work it could be a good oil-producing crop.”

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