This Car is Fueled by HEMP
TOMAH, Wis. - A 1983 Mercedes Benz powered by hemp seed oil stopped
Tuesday in Tomah as part of a cross-country trip touting the benefits of
hemp and its byproducts.
The car began its journey in Washington, D.C., in front of the White
House on July 4. The journey will end Oct. 2, back in Washington.
Ben Masel of Madison, a long-time supporter of hemp and the
decriminalization of marijuana, stopped at the Tee Pee Supper Club to
answer questions about the car and its fuel.
Masel said he and others who favor the industrial use of hemp joined the
project as an off-shoot of the movement supporting recreational uses for
"The car is a project," he said. "This is to prove a concept."
The diesel engine required no mechanical modifications and can run on
just about any type of vegetable oil, he said. "You'd get the same type
of result from sunflower or canola oil."
For the sake of the project, the car is powered by oil which is derived
from hemp seeds.
"This really isn't the most environmentally friendly journey," he said.
seed oil drop shipped by UPS trucks to future destinations along the
route kind of
defeats the purpose."
Throughout the early 1900s, growing hemp for industrial use was legal,
encouraged. Wisconsin farmers produced hemp as an industrial crop used
to make rope. The oil also was used for products such as paints and
"By the 1920s, Wisconsin was the nation's leading hemp-producing state,"
>From 1948 through 1957, Wisconsin was the nation's only producer of
Although efforts have been made to reintroduce laws allowing legal
production of hemp, federal law prohibits it. Products made from hemp
can, however, be sold in Wisconsin.
Drivers and supporters of the car visited with Tomah Mayor Ed Thompson,
who declared Tuesday as Hemp Car Day in the city.
Thompson and organizers of a statewide committee looking into his
gubernatorial campaign as a member of the Libertarian Party raved about
the valuable assets the crop provides and the potential uses that would
reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
"The effort is to draw attention to the agenda," said Sue Fisher,
spokesperson for Friends of Ed Thompson. "At the very least, you should
keep it open for discussion."
Newshawk: Ben Masel
Pubdate: August 1, 2001
Source: La Crosse Tribune
Author: JOSH MORBY