We’ve heard about the promise of hemp before: Its fibers can be stronger than steel. Its seeds make for antioxidant-loaded superfood for you and your chickens. It can compete with fossil fuel as a viable alternative energy source. But ever since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the U.S. has skunked hemp’s potential.

Now, Mary Jane’s younger cousin is having a moment. Included in the recent farm bill is an amendment that allows research of the plant at colleges and universities. And more states have taken up the charge recently. Hawaii just passed an industrial hemp bill for research purposes. Both New York and Illinois are introducing similar legislation, and Missouri just passed a bill (now heading to the governor’s desk) allowing hemp extract to be used to treat epileptic seizures. And of the two states where cannabis is legalized, it’s already growing in Colorado.

Enter Doug Fine, author of the new book Hemp Bound and one of the miracle plant’s biggest cheerleaders. He’s met hemp farmers and researchers, checked out a hemp house in Canada, and even rode in a hemp-powered limo, all to prove that the plant is the next big thing for a sustainable future. He sat down with Grist to talk about why he believes hemp holds the key to “a food and energy revolution” that will also become a vital part of climate change mitigation.