Mechelen greenlights industrial hemp production


You reap what you sow, and in the case of a field near Mechelen, that would be hemp – a first in Belgium.

Many people will know hemp better under the name ‘cannabis’, but rest assured, this is not a large-scale marijuana production operation. We’re talking about industrial hemp.

Hemp can be used to make durable building materials. It’s shown its worth as fences, oil and insulation, for example. Amateur botanists will know that the plant grows extremely fast, too. Three months can yield 3-metre-high plants! But wait, there’s more: they help remove carbon dioxide from the air!

The plant has already been used in Belgium for industrial purposes but, until now, it always had to be imported. The hemp in Mechelen will, in a first instance, be turned into wood to replace public benches and the like made out of tropical hardwood.

Did you know that the industrial use of hemp dates back to Roman times, when they isolated their villas with it to keep them cool? It was also used in Belgium as recently as the 1930s, when it was banned in favour of corn.

Before anyone gets any ideas (read: looking to use the product in the more widely known way), be advised that it takes about six hectares of industrial hemp for any mind-altering effects to kick in.