Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill to legalize industrial hemp on Saturday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The Illinois Industrial Hemp Act takes effect immediately and legalizes the harvesting and use of hemp for paper, fabric, plastics, construction materials, and food.
Illinois’ House of Representatives had approved the hemp legalization bill by a 106-3 vote; the Senate voted unanimously for the bill.
“Legalizing the farming of industrial hemp just makes good sense. 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.” — Gov. Bruce Rauner, in a statement
The Illinois Department of Agriculture will be tasked with licensing farmers who are interested in growing industrial hemp. First, however, regulators must determine rules for testing hemp crops’ THC content (federal law requires hemp plants to contain no more than 0.3 percent THC).
“The production of industrial hemp has broad support among our farmers and rural families, as they know this will add another potentially significant crop that can be grown in our state. In the early 20th century, Illinois was a national leader in hemp production and I look forward to us returning to that position.” — Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield), the bill’s sponsor, in a statement