The Illinois Senate unanimously voted to approve an industrial hemp bill. The Illinois House must vote on the bill before it can be sent to the Department of Agriculture to issue licenses to approved farmers. The bill was the idea of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Illinois Farmers Union.
The Illinois Environmental Council and Illinois Farm Bureau collaborated with the Stewardship Alliance and Farmers Union when crafting the bill, according to The Intelligencer. The Stewardship Alliance says that upwards of 25,000 different types of products can be made from or made to include hemp. Some of the products include cosmetics, clothing, food, rope and alternative plastics.
Growing hemp, according to Rebecca Osland of the Stewardship Alliance, would be beneficial to farm management.
Osland said, “From a farming side of things, it would allow our farmers to have another crop for rotation, and hemp is a much less chemically-intensive crop. It has the potential to remediate the soil by drawing out toxins. It’s also a good option for farmers who transition to organic to help get the soil prepared for that conversion.”
Rob Davies from the Illinois Farmers’ Union said, “It would make sense to have an alternative commodity that we can grow which is very useful. Whether it’s for nutritional purposes, for fiber purposes, manufacturing, there are over 20,000 uses for industrial hemp. What we’re hoping, it’s something that we can start here and be at the forefront of turning it into an industry.”
Davies also pointed out that hemp is not a drug. Hemp and marijuana are often confused as being the same, however, they are very different plants within the same species.
It isn’t stated when the Illinois House will vote on the bill.