In 1941, auto industry pioneer Henry Ford proposed a bold new concept: personal automobiles that everyday Americans can afford. Nearly eighty years later, his company Ford Motors is the fifth most popular auto brand worldwide – if you don’t drive a Ford yourself, you know someone who does. Many fans of Ford’s brand aren’t aware that his original vision for the personalized American automobile incorporated hemp products as a primary structural component. While his well-known Model-T wasn’t made from hemp products alone, they were incorporated into much of the car’s prototype. Ford’s original vision glistened with promise of a sustainable future.
Unfortunately, the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act needlessly vilified hemp, criminalizing its production and sale because of its relation to cannabis. Hemp is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, which can be used to develop an incredible range of sustainable products. Unfortunately, its criminalization prevented innovators of the past century from utilizing hemp’s incredible potential. It hurts to imagine the cumulative environmental damage that our nation (and planet) could have been avoided if hemp hadn’t been criminalized.
A New Direction
Thankfully we’ve reached a crossroads, hemp lovers. In 2018, the Farm Bill was passed into United States federal law. The Farm Bill will gradually help to eradicate legal barriers and forge a path for the new frontier of hemp to be embraced and explored more fully. In fact, some innovators are already using hemp to drive the market of sustainable products forward. And we mean “drive” literally. While many hemp products can be found in smoke shops like ours, some industry innovators are thinking bigger and bolder than even the coolest head shops can carry. Hemp has a variety of potentially beneficial forms for the auto industry. Biofuel can now be made from hemp, as can ethanol and a range of auto parts. Most impressive is a recently designed sportscar made almost entirely from hemp – for the very first time in history. Henry Ford would be so proud.
The visionary creator of this new hemp sportscar is Bruce Michael Dietzen. Dietzen was once an executive at Dell Computers. Always an auto aficionado, he relocated to Miami, Florida in 1980 with an impressive fleet of sportscars in tow. In the decades that followed, Dietzen always toyed with ideas for an ecofriendly car with the same sleek, luxurious feel that the classics bring. After an exhaustive search, Dietzen knew that hemp would be the best choice by far for his mission. And in 2016, he reached his goal with his sleek, stylish hemp sportscar.
Bruce Michael Dietzen
The car used the chassis of an old Mazda as its “skeleton,” and required roughly 100 pounds of hemp in total for its construction. In an interview to Jay Leno just after the car’s 2016 unveiling, Dietzen proclaimed that the sportscar’s tightly woven hemp exterior made it ten times stronger than steel. You read that right. We’re all familiar with strong strains of reefer – who knew that hemp’s physical strength was on another level?
Dietzen went on to explain the pros and cons of the car’s connection to the cannabis industry. While the hemp composition certainly piques public interest, the lingering stigma of cannabis prevents some from welcoming his vision, or from taking his ideas seriously. Those that enjoy THC understand that nobody takes a hit of hemp from their water pipe. In fact, hemp is completely free of psychoactive components, unlike THC.
While Dietzen’s revolutionary design made history, doing so wasn’t cheap. In fact, the prototype for Dietzen’s hemp car cost a whopping $200K to fully construct. One reason the total got so high was the necessity for unusual modes of production. For instance, the car’s construction was entirely dependent on material imported from overseas. “Hemp is still illegal to grow [in the United States]” explained Dietzen of the industry restrictions in effect at the time of the car’s unveiling. “I had to import the woven material all the way from China because we still don’t have the facilities that can make hemp fabrics.”
In his 2016 interview, Dietzen expressed his genuine wish that hemp someday could be decriminalized on a broader scale. “Many states are starting to make it legal. It’s a really great sign as we’re getting back to the point where we’re starting to make products out of industrial hemp just as Henry Ford suggested we should do.”
The Farm Bill's 2018 approval may increase the auto industry’s willingness and fiscal ability to embrace Dietzen’s line of thinking at long last. If so, hemp-based cars may someday become a dreamcar that everyday Americans can purchase. Henry Ford's Model-T came close to accomplishing this goal, and we're closer than ever to the realization of that dream.
The legality of hemp’s production in the United States may significantly reduce the cost of vehicles produced with hemp products. It will also allow for their creation without the exorbitant costs of production paid by Dietzen, since overseas imports won't be needed. Shortly after finalizing his sportscar, Dietzen embarked on a new career path. He's now partnered with Cool Technologies, a company based just outside of Denver, specializing in the creation of hemp-based fuel. Through the power of hemp, Dietzen's taken tremendous strides toward revolutionizing the auto industry through a new generation of fuel sources and automobiles, which can help the environment rather than hurt it.
While we don’t carry sportscars just yet, 710Pipes offers a wide range of hemp-based products. We carry JUULs and other vaporizers, water pipes, accessories and so much more! Stop by our Northglenn head shop between 8AM-10PM, seven days a week. We have two Denver pipe shops open daily from 12-8PM (11AM-9PM Thursdays through Saturdays) – on Colfax and on Evans near DU. Denver University students get 10% off with a valid student ID!