Pubdate: Sun, 10 Apr 2011
Source: Journal Standard, The (Freeport, IL)
Copyright: 2011 GateHouse Media, Inc.


Freeport, Ill. -- This week Illinois lawmakers voted, 28-82, to reject
House Bill 1383, which would have allowed Illinois farmers to obtain
permits to grow and produce industrial hemp.

The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Pec), and was also
supported by the Illinois Farm Bureau.

Not to be confused with cannabis as both come from the same plant,
industrial hemp is grown to maximize the fiber content, not the THC
level, which means it will not get smokers high. It is grown in
tighter rows and harvested much earlier.

It is a valuable crop and can be used to produce a number of

"We are importing close to $30 billion of products that we use every
single day; clothing, lotions, hair products, physical products with
simple fibers," Rep. Kenneth Dunkin (D-Chicago), the bill's sponsor,

Dunkin said the bill would have allowed the state to take a financial
advantage of a growing market. And we agree.

Farming is an important part of Illinois, and this bill seemed like a
great opportunity to spark a boom in an existing industry. It would
have also created a number of opportunities for manufacturing.

Those against the bill argued that it would be difficult for law
enforcement to distinguish between hemp and illegal marijuana. And
some also argued that the point was "moot" since only the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration has the power to issue licenses to grow

While a handful of states have enacted similar legislation to allow
farmers to grow industrial hemp, farmers still need a permit from the
federal government.

But in a struggling economy with record unemployment numbers, maybe it
is time to push the envelope a little. This was a chance for Illinois
lawmakers to let the people know that boosting industry and creating
jobs are at the top of the priority list.

Maybe it is time to acknowledge that the stigma of "hemp" is far less
important than the reality of the Illinois economy. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake