Illinois Legalizes Industrial Hemp

Saturday, August 25, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner [R] added his signature to a bipartisan bill to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp for non-drug-related purposes.

SB2298 garnered the full approval of the state legislature on May 30 when the Senate voted 56 to 0 to pass it before sending it to the governor’s office in June. The measure had already passed the House with a 106 to 3 vote on May 23.

Initially filed by Senator Toi Hutchinson on January 10, the bill creates an industrial hemp licensing and regulation system which is overseen by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (DOA) and removes hemp from the Noxious Weed Act and Cannabis Control Act.

“Legalizing the farming of industrial hemp makes good sense,” said Rauner in a statement. “Roughly thirty-eight 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.”

While hemp is mostly THC-free, tiny amounts of it are produced by the plant, and consequently, DOA-licensed crops produced under the new bill will be subject to testing to ensure that THC levels are below the legal limit.

Having gained Governor Rauner’s signature, SB2298 goes into effect immediately.