Illinois Farmers Plan Another Push To Legalize Industrial Hemp

Jan 3, 2018

A hemp plant cut down at a University of Kentucky farm near Lexington.
Credit DYLAN LOVAN / AP

Making it legal to raise industrial hemp has been a topic of discussion in Illinois for years. Wisconsin is the most recent state to allow farmers to grow it. Will Illinois be next?

Back in 2014, the federal farm bill authorized states to grow hemp for research purposes. And effective in 2015, Illinois allowed specific state universities to do so.

But it’s still not legal for farmers to grow, whether it’s for research or another cash crop, and it’s not for a lack of trying by the Illinois Farm Bureau, said IFB's Bill Bodine.

“For farmers it’s an opportunity to possibly diversify into a new crop," Bodine said. "It’s something different than maybe the traditional crops you see grown in Illinois. It would be an opportunity for them to diversify and possibly make some new income off a new crop.”

Hemp is derived from the cannabis plant and THC, the mind-altering component in marijuana, is present but at a very low level. Hemp can be used in a variety of products, including rope and textiles.

The Illinois Farm Bureau plans another push for hemp this year.