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.

Illinois police claim if marijuana is legalized, they’ll have to kill their police dogs

The training director of a police K-9 academy in Illinois claims that if the state legalizes recreational marijuana, it will likely have to euthanize “a number” of its pot-sniffing dogs, The Pantagraph reports.

There are approximately 275 trained narcotic K-9s in Illinois, with each costing the department thousands of dollars. Replacing the dogs would cost millions, and Chad Larner, the director of Maron County’s K-9 Training Academy, said “retraining” the dogs would be “extreme abuse.”

“At this point, they’re trained on five different odors,” explained the Normal Police Department’s assistant police chief, Steve Petrilli, a former K-9 handler. “Once they’re programed with that, you can’t just deprogram them.” The dogs are also trained against being social in order to be effective workers, which led Larner to suggest “a number” of the K-9s would have to be euthanized in the event that marijuana is legalized, The Pantagraph writes.

Marijuana advocates are skeptical about the threat. “The idea that legalizing for adults to have an ounce on them will equal … all these dogs being euthanized, that seems kind of ridiculous and hyperbolic,” the executive director of the advocacy group NORML, Dan Linn, told The Pantagraph. Petrilli likewise said the dogs would likely continue to live with their handlers in retirement, and in states where the drug has already been legalized, some K-9s have simply been retrained to ignore the (much more frequent) whiffs of pot. Read the full report about what is to become of the police dogs at The Pantagraph. Jeva Lange