Pubdate: Wed, 29 Nov 2000
Source: Belleville News-Democrat (IL)
Copyright: 2000 Belleville News-Democrat
Contact:  120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222
Fax: (618) 236-9773


SPRINGFIELD -- A bill authorizing a study of hemp as a cash crop fell two
votes short in the House on Tuesday amid fears it would send the wrong
message about illicit drug use.

Most representatives favored the idea -- the vote was 69-45 -- but the bill
called for it to take effect immediately, so parliamentary rules required 71
votes for passage.

Rep. Ronald Lawfer, R-Stockton, said he will call the bill again in January,
before the new Legislature is seated, when it will require just 60 votes.
The measure, which passed the Republican-led Senate 49-9 in February, would
authorize the University of Illinois in Champaign and Southern Illinois
University Carbondale to study whether the crop, a relative of marijuana,
would grow well in the state and make money for farmers. It also would study
how to limit the plant's level of the hallucinogenic chemical found in

``This is not about drugs. It's about agriculture,'' Lawfer said. Hemp,
grown in Illinois during World War II, can be made into clothing and animal
bedding, its seeds can provide nutrition in food and its oil can be used in
cooking and paint.

``Just maybe we have a crop here to help many farmers in Illinois with an
alternative crop,'' said Rep. Chuck Hartke, D-Teutopolis.
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