Bill Seeks To Remove Industrial Hemp From Illinois’ “Noxious Weed” List

Industrial hemp in Illinois
Image: christianbetz

As part of expanding industrial hemp cultivation in the U.S. state of Illinois, legislation is in the works to also see the plant struck from the state’s noxious weeds list – and distance it further from its cousin.

Currently, laws in Illinois only allow the cultivation of hemp by universities and the Department of Agriculture as part of a state-sponsored research program.

Senate Bill 2298 would also enable farmers to begin cultivating industrial hemp in the state.

SB 2298 seeks to:

  • Create the Industrial Hemp Act
  • Amend the Illinois Noxious Weed Law to remove industrial hemp as a listed species
  • Amend the Cannabis Control Act so that the definition of cannabis does not include the plant

Senate sponsors of the bill are Toi W. Hutchinson, David Koehler, Omar Aquino, Cristina Castro and Heather A. Steans.

The Illinois Farm Bureau supports the Bill, saying it would give the state’s farmers more options.

“This could provide an additional crop that they could grow that might allow them to diversify their income,” said the Bureau’s Bill Bodine.

According to the USDA web site, Cannabis sativa L. is listed as a noxious weed in the state and notes its common name as being “marijuana” – the latter is incorrect as although related, marijuana and industrial hemp are different plants.

As to when all this may occur assuming the Bill passes is anyone’s guess. The Bill has been hanging around for a while and looks like it has some way to go. Additionally, the application and licensing requirements need to be determined by the Department and rules set within 240 days of the Act taking effect.

So, legal industrial hemp appearing in the fields of Illinois again might still be quite a way off.

Hemp was first grown in Champaign, Ill. around 1875 primarily for fibre. At certain points, thousands of growers were registered. There was also a significant amount of related innovation going on in the state, with 14 patents registered for hemp harvesting and processing equipment.

At least 34 U.S. states have passed legislation allowing industrial hemp cultivation, the number having grown dramatically in the last couple of years.