Published in CBS St. Louis
It’s been around since the stone age and some estimate there are up to 50-thousand products that can be made from it but there’s also one ingredient that’s illegal and that’s THC the active chemical in marijuana. Hemp is the name of the soft, durable fibre that is cultivated from plants of the Cannabis genus. “Hemp” is also a name for the Cannabis plant. …
The Illinois House voted down a measure Thursday that would have made it legal to grow, own, buy or sell industrial hemp in the state. Bill sponsor Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) says his legislation was aimed at allowing farmers to break into the hemp industry.
As an industry is amongst us, it is active…it is a part of the fabric of most human being’s households, their lifestyle, whether we are aware of it or not,” he said.
The bill would have allowed farmers to apply for a one year license, pending the results of a background check. Any felony activity in the last ten years would have disqualified an applicant from being able to grow the plant. Major concerns on the House floor involved hemp’s relation to marijuana.
“Can you point me in your legislation to where it specifically states that this will be a non-THC producing plant?” asked State Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). “Understand the science of this,” responded Dunkin. “Industrial hemp contains less than one percent of the Tetra-hydro-cannabinol, the psychoactive component of Marijuana. It’s akin to your drinking a non-alcoholic beer and expecting to get drunk. It’s not going to happen.”
State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) raised another related point. “It is classified as a Schedule One substance by the federal government and that is not legal,” she said.
“To simply say the federal government has it under one particular schedule compared to where we want to be can be potentially short-sighted,” Dunkin said later in the debate.
The bill failed in the House on a vote of 28-83.
After the bill’s failure, Executive Director of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws Dan Linn expressed his dissatisfaction.
“Everything from biodiesel fuel, to textiles, to food products from the seed and oil can be produced from the hemp plant,” said Linn. “However, in America, farmers are not allowed to grow hemp despite the fact that consumers are allowed to purchase and consume hemp products every day that are purchased from countries like China and Canada.”
Linn also pointed to Polo, Illinois – a town in northwestern Illinois that produced industrial hemp during World War II during the “Hemp for Victory” campaign.
“And to this day, there’s actually a museum in Polo, Illinois celebrating the region’s patriotic duties to produce hemp,” he said.