Rauner Signs Bill Legalizing Industrial Hemp in Illinois
Gov. Bruce Rauner on Sunday signed into law a bill that allows farmers to grow cannabis for non-drug uses, making Illinois the latest state to legalize a crop that experts say is growing in demand.
The new law permits the cultivation of industrial hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant that is used to make paper, fabrics, biodegradable plastics, construction materials and a variety of foods, including granola. The bill was introduced in January by state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights.
Despite the plant’s widespread use, federal law prohibits the growing of hemp, which the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies as a Schedule 1 drug, or one with a high potential for abuse.
To get around the federal ban, at least 16 other states have legalized industrial hemp production for commercial purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“Legalizing the farming of industrial hemp just makes good sense,” Rauner said in a statement after signing the bill, noting that a number of other states are considering allowing cultivation of the crop for commercial, research or pilot programs. “Our farmers should have this option as well.”
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