Gov. Bruce Rauner signs bill legalizing Industrial Hemp

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Saturday signed a bill legalizing industrial hemp, adding Illinois to a growing list of states that allow the growth of cannabis for non-drug purposes.

“Legalizing the farming of industrial hemp just makes good sense,” Rauner said in a statement. “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. Our farmers should have this option as well.”

Illinois’ Industrial Hemp Act, which goes into effect immediately, allows for its use in paper, fabric, biodegradable plastics, construction materials and health food, according to the governor’s office.

The state Department of Agriculture will issue licenses to farmers who want to grow it, and regulators will establish rules for THC-level testing of industrial hemp crops.

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Illinois Senate & House Agriculture Committee Unanimously Approve Industrial Hemp Bill

By TG Branfalt

The Illinois Senate has unanimously approved a bill to allow the state Agricultural Department to license farmers to grow hemp, according to a WAND report. Currently, only universities can get licensed to grow hemp for research purposes in Illinois. The measure was subsequently approved by the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee and just needs to be approved by the full House before moving to the governor.

The bill includes language to ensure that the “research” requirement of federal law does not limit the commercial sale of industrial hemp products in the state. Industrial hemp is defined under the state law as cannabis plants containing 0.3 percent of THC or less – only West Virginia’s hemp law uses a higher threshold of 1 percent. The state Department of Agriculture is tasked with developing other program rules within 120 days of the bill being signed by the governor.

The House committee vote was also unanimous. The measure currently carries three House sponsors – all Democrats – and the measure was stalled in the chamber last year, according to Chicago Tonight; however, with the overwhelming support in the Senate and the committee, Illinois appears posed to become the 36th state to legalize industrial hemp cultivation.