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Legalizing Weed: 4 Facts About Illinois' Legalization of Industrial Hemp Farming

By Andrea Miller   |   Thursday, 14 Jan 2016 06:17 PM

The effort to legalize weed is underway in Illinois. The state allows the medical use of marijuana, and possession of small amounts of the drug is in the process of being decriminalized. Additionally, the cultivation of industrial hemp is allowed in Illinois under specific circumstances. This crop has the potential to be used for more than 25,000 environmentally friendly products.

Here are four facts about the industrial hemp legalization laws in Illinois:

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1. Industrial hemp may be cultivated by colleges, universities, and government agencies for the purpose of research in Illinois, in alignment with federal guidelines. These pilot projects must be approved by the Department of Agriculture and plan to study the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp. Researchers must have department permission in writing and submit quarterly and annual reports detailing their progress on stated objectives.

2. Advocates of the crop note the importance of its potential economic impact on the state and nation. Ali Nagib, assistant director of Illinois NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), expressed to the Cannabis Career Institute the importance of leveraging the estimated $500 million hemp industry for domestic economic growth rather than “outsourcing [production of the crop] to China, Europe, and Canada."

3. Applicants for licenses to grow industrial hemp must undergo a state and federal background check. Those individuals who have had a felony conviction in the past 10 years are not eligible for a hemp cultivation permit. Applications must include detailed information about the research project and the land where the crop will be planted. If granted, licenses are valid for a period of one year.

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4. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois State University will be the first two institutions to develop a pilot program. The industrial hemp program is open to any state school that offers a four-year agricultural degree. Illinois State plans to focus on production and increasing fiber content in the plant, while the University of Illinois has not yet submitted a proposal, but plans to focus on sustainability measures using industrial hemp.

The other two eligible schools, Western Illinois University and Southern Illinois University, do not currently have plans to pursue industrial hemp. However, colleges and universities without a four-year agriculture degree may partner with those that do to sponsor additional research, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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The effort to legalize weed is underway in Illinois. The state allows the medical use of marijuana, and possession of small amounts of the drug is in the process of being decriminalized. Additionally, the cultivation of industrial hemp is allowed in Illinois under specific circumstances.
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2016-17-14
 

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