Industrial Hemp Legalised In Illinois

Industrial hemp in Illinois
Image: rexmedlen

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has signed the Industrial Hemp Act, Senate Bill 2298 into law, saying the legislation just makes good sense.

Illinois now follows dozens of other U.S. states where the crop can or will soon be more broadly legally grown again.

“Roughly 38 states — including our neighbors in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee — have allowed or are considering allowing cultivation of this crop for commercial, research or pilot programs,” said Governor Rauner ” Our farmers should have this option as well. This new state licensure program begins that process.”

Effective immediately, the Act creates a program through the Department of Agriculture enabling farmers eager to grow the crop to do so. Yet to be implemented are rules for THC-level testing of industrial hemp crops, which will be overseen by the Department.

Prior to this, cultivation of industrial hemp was only permitted in the state by universities and the Department of Agriculture. The plant was also on the state’s noxious weeds list.

The Illinois Environmental Council and Farm Bureau applauded the Governor’s action, stating industrial hemp will bring new opportunities to Illinois farmers

The State’s House voted in favor 106-3 on Senate Bill 2298 back in May. Chief sponsor of SB 2298 in the House, Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said industrial hemp production had broad support in the state’s farming communities.

“In the early 20th century, Illinois was a national leader in hemp production and I look forward to us returning to that position,” he said.

The crop played an important role in the state in the 1940s as part of war efforts. A copy of what is said to be a 1943 Illinois Agriculturist article published on the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy states:

“Sixty thousand acres of hemp is Illinois’ goal to help meet the needs of the armed forces.” To process all this hemp, it notes 15 plants were to be constructed in the state.

It appears industrial hemp won’t be grown for medicinal purposes during at least the initial stages of the crop’s renaissance in Illinois. While low in THC, industrial hemp can be high in another cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD), a valuable compound being widely researched for its potential applications in health.

According to the Governor’s office, industrial hemp will be cultivated in Illinois for non-drug purposes, such as food (hemp seed) and fiber.