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Illinois Lawmakers Consider Letting Farmers Grow Hemp

Nicole Erwin / WKMS

Lawmakers in Springfield have been considering a bill that would allow Illinois farmers to grow industrial hemp.

The State Journal-Register reports that Democratic state Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields is sponsoring the legislation. It passed the state Senate this month and is headed to the House. Current state law lets universities with four-year agricultural science programs grow hemp. The new measure would expand that to include all farmers.

The National Council of State Legislatures says at least 30 other states have laws related to industrial hemp. Proponents say the expansion could create jobs.

Illinois Farmers Union marketing director Rob Davies says a big misconception is that hemp is similar to marijuana. He says it's not a drug. He says from farmers' perspectives it makes sense "to have an alternative commodity" to grow.

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