Philly420: Ex-Flyer, Pa. State Senators host a hemp building clinic

Not only can you smoke cannabis, you can build with it.

A workshop on building with hempcrete, a cannabis-reinforced concrete, will take place this Saturday, June 6th, in Berks County.

The event will feature talks from former Philadelphia Flyer Riley Cote, Pa. State Sen. Judy Schwank (D., Berks), St. Sen. Mike Folmer (R., Lebanon), St. Rep. Russ Diamond (R., Lebanon) and author/activist Les Stark of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. A bill to allow industrial hemp farming is making its way through the legislative process in Harrisburg.

The gathering is part of a national series of events called Hemp History Week, with dozens planned across Pennsylvania though Sunday.

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John Patterson, a career carpenter of Tiny Hemp Houses in Colorado, will be leading the workshop.

Hemp, when mixed with a lime binder, becomes a lightweight building material that can be shaped into a form similar to a cinder block. When fully cured, it floats in water. Hempcrete structures up to 10 stories tall reportedly have been built with it in Europe.

On Saturday, participants will learn the basics of design and framing along with a history of hemp building materials. The core lessons will focus on hempcrete recipes and the proper mixing techniques. Attendees will go home with their own block of hempcrete.

Senators Schwank and Folmer are the lead sponsors of the hemp farming bill SB50.

“From paper to fuel, clothing to biodegradable plastics, the return of industrial hemp would give Pennsylvania’s farmers the opportunity to grow an in-demand crop that benefits tens of millions of people all over the world,” said Schwank.

During a hearing before the Senate Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee in May, the measure received the support of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the state Dept. of Agriculture. Rep. Diamond has sponsored a companion bill in the House.