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This car is made out of cannabis hemp
Anyone remember the Cheech & Chong movie “Up in Smoke” from years ago? Unlike the van in that movie, even if a whole new bright red Florida green machine does catch alight, it’s not going to cause a high – except in its high performance and the high expectations it’s creating for the future of carbon-neutral cars.
Although he’s got no intention of setting alight the car that cost him $200 000 to build, that’s probably part of the reason why Bruce Michael Dietzen from Florida built the sports convertible in the first place. It’s built out of cannabis hemp, which does not contain the THC responsible for the high produced when marijuana is set alight. The marijuana van in the Cheech & Chong movie did provide a general high, at least in the movie.
Combatting the taboo
Dietzen, a former Dell executive, built his convertible in an effort to counter the commonly-held taboo regarding the cannabis plant and its uses, the New York Times reports. He is quoted as saying that he considered it “insane” that the government still viewed cannabis hemp as being as dangerous as cocaine or heroin.
The body of the car, built on a Mazda chassis, is made from 100lbs of woven hemp. It is lighter even than fibreglass, and far lighter than steel, yet it is claimed to be 10 times less likely to dent than steel is, in the event of an accident. The actual body frame as well as engine, mechanical and electrical parts and windshield switches could not be made from the cannabis plant. The bodywork, rugs and even the dashboard were.
No hemp fabric in Florida
Bruce Dietzen had to go to great lengths to obtain the woven hemp necessary for building the car because he could not get it in his home state of Florida. As it is still not legal to grow hemp in Florida, facilities to make the fabric are not available there. Instead he had to import the material from China.
The bio fuel which powers the car comes from recycled agricultural waste, and is expected to beat standard electric cars with regard to lower carbon emissions.
Dietzen’s decision to embark on the project resulted from his hearing about Henry Ford’s 1941 soybean car, long believed to have been built entirely of hemp. This was later disproved, but hemp did play a role in the construction of the car which was made of an agricultural plastic which contained some cannabis hemp.
No plans for mass production
The former Dell executive is open to taking custom orders for his cannabis car, and is rumoured to be working on a second car. However, he has said he is not thinking about turning what started in his garage into a major car company.
Perhaps his car would have had more success in the open market than the Lotus Eco Elise, a hemp bodied car which has stayed a concept car since 2008, or the Canadian Kestrel of 2013 which has also not gone into assembly. Do you use cannabis hemp products?