Pubdate: Sat, 04 Aug 2001
Source: The News-Gazette (IL)
Copyright: 2001 The News-Gazette
Author: Kate Clements


SPRINGFIELD - Gov. George Ryan vetoed a bill Friday that would have allowed 
the University of Illinois to study industrial hemp as a potential cash crop.

Industrial hemp has a very low level (.3 percent or below) of 
tetrohydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that 
gives a high to users.

The bill would have directed the UI to develop a strain of hemp with zero 
THC, but Ryan said signing the bill would still "send a mixed message to 
the youth of our state."

Antidrug advocates were overjoyed by the news.

"We are thrilled," exclaimed Judy Kreamer of Educating Voices, a group that 
had lobbied hard against the bill.

"Industrial hemp poses law enforcement problems, and it sends the wrong 
message to kids, and it really holds out a false hope to farmers."

The Illinois Farmers Union and the Illinois Farm Bureau support legalizing 
industrial hemp, which is grown in Canada and other countries for use in 
construction materials, fabric, paper and some food products and cosmetics.

Don Briskin, a plant physiology professor at the UI, had hoped to head up 
the study.

Briskin said Illinois has an ideal climate for growing the plant.

The university can still study the economic feasibility, processing costs 
and marketing prospects for industrial hemp without actually cultivating 
the plant, Ryan said in his veto message.

Ryan vetoed a similar bill in February, but sponsors had hoped the new 
version addressed the concerns he expressed.

Ryan cited a University of Kentucky study that found hemp wasn't a thriving 
industry in the countries already allowing farmers to grow the crop.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom