Tags: Marijuana Legalization | US State Facts | marijuana | industrial hemp farming | Illinois

Legalizing Weed: Key Players in Illinois' Legalization of Industrial Hemp Farming

By    |   Thursday, 31 Dec 2015 01:32 PM

In recent years, several states have begun legalizing industrial hemp farming in an attempt to take advantage of its economic benefits. Illinois did so in 2014.

The plant is frequently used to make everything from food to fabric, and has been for centuries. When the federal government banned hemp production more than a half-century ago, it was attempting to restrict the use of marijuana. Other countries allow its cultivation, prompting United States companies to import it for production purposes.

The following people and groups were involved in the effort to begin legalizing hemp in Illinois.

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1. State Rep. David Leitch, R-Peoria
State Rep. David Leitch sponsored House Bill 5085 that, in 2014, legalized hemp cultivation for the purposes of research. According to Global Hemp, Inc. the bill marked the third time the issue had come before the governor. Previous attempts were vetoed in 1999 and 2000. According to the Chicago Tribune, the bill allowed certain organizations to conduct industrial hemp research. This includes four-year universities that offer agriculture degrees.

2. Eric Pollitt, president of Global Hemp, Inc.
Pollitt worked with Rep. Leitch to secure the passage of HB 5085. As quoted in a press release issued by his organization, Pollitt said: "The industrial potential of the hemp plant is tremendous. Research and production within the US have been hampered by its miscategorization by the DEA as a form of marijuana. Thankfully the Europeans and Canadians dropped their ban on hemp production 15-20 years ago. We have learned a lot from them."

3. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed HB 5085 into law in 2014. His stance toward industrial hemp production is markedly different than previous governor, George Ryan, who vetoed similar bills twice, as reported by the Chicago Tribune

4. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois State University
HB 5085 opened up hemp research to the state's higher education institutions, and as the Chicago Tribune noted, these two universities immediately indicated they'd be interested in launching hemp research projects. The Tribune quoted Rob Rhykerd, chairman of the Department of Agriculture at Illinois State, as saying "It probably wouldn't happen this growing season, but conversations will continue."

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In recent years, several states have begun legalizing industrial hemp farming in an attempt to take advantage of its economic benefits. Illinois did so in 2014.
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2015-32-31
Thursday, 31 Dec 2015 01:32 PM
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