SPRINGFIELD, IL — A bill to allow the state Department of Agriculture to licence the cultivation of industrial hemp was approved by the House Rules Committee Monday.
House Bill 2668, the Industrial Hemp Act, would allow the Department of Agriculture to begin issuing one-year license to farmers wishing to grow hemp, a cousin of the cannabis plant.
Applicants would be subject to a nationwide criminal background check, and would be denied a license to grow hemp if they had been convicted of a felony in any state within the past ten years.
The Rules Committee voted 4-0 to recommend the House adopt the bill, which has already been approved by the Illinois House Agriculture and Conservation Committee by a 9-8 vote in March.
The bill is expected to now advance to the full House for consideration.
Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (less than one percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing. The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service.
Of the eight states who previously approved industrial hemp legislation, only Hawaii has received a federal waiver allowing them to grow an acre of hemp for research purposes.
Federal legislation, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana is currently pending in the US Senate and House of Representatives