New Cars Shipped with Hemp Stash in the Door

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That’s right – if you have a new Chrysler Sebring or a number of other new cars, they may have come complete with a supply of hemp.
Of course, hemp is the industrial version of the marijuana plant, and before you start ripping apart the door panels looking for the stash, the hemp is likely to be part of the material of the door panel itself.
For some years, the use of hemp in cars has been developing in a number of ways (there’s even a car that is fueled by hemp).
An article in the Ottawa Citizen — High on Hemp talks about the value of hemp in auto parts:

“The reason they’re looking at natural fibres like hemp and flax is that they’re cost-effective and they perform well,” he says. “Compared to glass fibre, the cost of production is lower but the strength and ratio is roughly comparable so we can get excellent mechanical properties at a much lower price.”
Hemp is typically less than half the price of glass and its light weight is also a benefit. To a smaller extent, manufacturers are drawn to the environmental benefits, a plus that played a much bigger role in Europe where, by 2005, every vehicle part has to be capable of being completely recycled.

Ford specialist Ellen Lee says this is “potentially a billion-dollar industry.” Good news for Canadian farmers, who supply the industrial hemp for the auto industry. It’s illegal to grow it in the U.S.

Canada profits from the illegal version of the plant as well.
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In the upcoming issue of Forbes Magazine:

THE ESTIMATED VALUE OF Canada’s marijuana production-up to $7 billion-exceeds its farm receipts of both cattle ($5.63 billion) and wheat ($1.73 billion), or the $4.3 billion taken in by forestry and logging. Only oil and gas extraction, worth $15.8 billion, is worth more.
CANADA’S LEGAL farm operators have net margins of 5.5%. An economist in Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University figures pot growers have a 72% annual rate of return, after discounting for costs, labor, thefts and arrests.

It’s not a bad series of articles at Forbes, although I felt the depth and extent of reporting was a little thin for a cover story.

The Chong sidebar has a great line:

Chong plans to use his jail time to work on new material. “This is career-enhancing,” he says. “Still, I wish my character was going to jail, instead of me.”

Finally, while we hear how drug sales fund terrorism (although only because of prohibition), it’s interesting to see the importance of this illegal industry in the general economy:

“I know at least a hundred [marijuana growers], 20 years old to 70,” says Robert Smith, who isn’t part of the trade but indirectly profits from it at the furniture store he owns in Grand Forks, B.C., 110 miles north of Spokane, Wash. “Of the money coming through my door, 15% to 20% comes from cannabis–we’d be on welfare without it.”
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