SPRINGFIELD (Heartland Newsfeed) — State Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) has joined the growing ranks of those publicly advocating for the legalization of industrial hemp in Illinois.
“What is the drawback to industrial hemp production,” Skillicorn said. “This was a very popular cash crop during World War II for industrial purposes. Since neighboring state Kentucky legalized industrial hemp, farmers in that state have yet another successful product to produce.”
The issue of legalization has long been debated in Illinois, with supporters of the idea growing louder after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill into law in late 2017 allowing farmers there to grow the product.
Three years earlier, the Federal farm bill authorized states to grow hemp for research purposes, with Illinois somewhat joining the party a year later by allowing universities across the state to do so.
According to Capitol Fax, Illinois Farm Bureau Director of External Relations Bill Bodine recently hailed industrial hemp production as yet another opportunity for farmers “to possibly diversify into a new crop and make some new income off a new crop.”
Bodine predicts that Illinois lawmakers will make yet another push to get hemp production legalized this year with support coming from both the Farm Bureau and Skillicorn.
“It’s common sense to get the government out of the way,” Skillicorn said.
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) is sponsoring the Illinois legalization bill. The National Conference of State Legislatures, where Hutchinson serves as president-elect, estimates that at least 30 states have laws related to industrial hemp, with proponents arguing that its legalized production sparks job creation.
Capitol Fax added Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker has also thrown his support behind hemp legalization.
“Legalizing industrial hemp will help diversify and expand our agricultural economy and I am strongly in favor,” he said. “I stand with Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who is leading this fight in the General Assembly, and will work with her and farmers across Illinois to make legalized industrial hemp a reality in our state.”