Illinois Governor Signs Legislation Licensing Hemp Farming

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois’ Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has signed legislation into law authorizing the state to license individual farmers to grow hemp for commercial purposes.

The new law, which took immediate effect, expands the state’s existing hemp program. Under the 2014 pilot program, only universities were permitted to produce hemp for research purposes.

The new act allows “any individual, partnership, firm, corporation, company, society, [or] association” to apply for a hemp cultivation license.

“Legalizing the farming of industrial hemp just makes good sense,” the Governor 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. This new state licensure program begins that process.”

“Today, hemp products are sold on store shelves throughout Illinois, but our farmers are not able to grow hemp in their fields,” said Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti.”Our farmers lead the nation in corn and soybean production. In signing this bill, Gov. Rauner is providing our framers another crop for their fields and another opportunity to compete nationally.”

“Gov. Rauner knows the importance of agriculture to the Illinois economy and I truly appreciate his approval of this legislation,” said Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield), chief sponsor of SB 2298 in the House. “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.”

Over 40 states have enacted statutes distinguishing hemp from marijuana, and authorizing its licensed production. According to estimates provided by the advocacy group Vote Hemp, US farmers legally cultivated over 23,000 acres of hemp last year.

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