Over the years, cannabis has helped fuel some Olympic athletes, most notably British Columbia snowboarder Ross Rebagliati. But here’s a first: Cannabis will help build Olympic venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
The Calgary Herald reported this week that industrial hemp fiber grown in Alberta will be a main structural component of the bobsled and luge runs.
According to the Herald, 360 pounds (163 kilograms) of hemp was shipped last week to China to reinforce the concrete used to build the runs in Xiaohaituo, just outside of Beijing. Canadian Greenfield Technologies is the company responsible for growing and processing the hemp product called NForce-Fiber l.
Canadian Greenfield Technologies Corp. is led by an award-winning team of engineers and has been in business for more than 30 years, but this will be the company’s first Olympics. According to the company’s website, its hemp fiber products is a one-of-a-kind product currently being used in swimming pools and skateboard parks across North America.
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But the Olympics are a big deal for Stephen Christensen, the company’s general manager. “I thought we’d be successful, but there aren’t a lot of concrete projects like a bobsled track,” he told the Herald. “We’re getting some international acknowledgment.”
A third-party testing process demonstrated hemp fiber’s superiority over plastic or glass as a reinforcement for concrete structures. “They tried doing it without fiber and got quite the number of cracks and came back to us,” he said. “They’ve got very stringent quality control.”
The company began researching hemp applications six years ago and produces gardening items, food preservers, beauty products and even cat litter.
Alberta is the hub of Canada’s $200-million hemp industry, which is an international export leader. The type of cannabis grown to yield hemp contains nearly undetectable traces of THC, cannabis’ psychoactive component.