The Illinois Senate has unanimously approved a bill to allow the state Agricultural Department to license farmers to grow hemp, according to a WAND report. Currently, only universities can get licensed to grow hemp for research purposes in Illinois. The measure was subsequently approved by the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee and just needs to be approved by the full House before moving to the governor.

The bill includes language to ensure that the “research” requirement of federal law does not limit the commercial sale of industrial hemp products in the state. Industrial hemp is defined under the state law as cannabis plants containing 0.3 percent of THC or less – only West Virginia’s hemp law uses a higher threshold of 1 percent. The state Department of Agriculture is tasked with developing other program rules within 120 days of the bill being signed by the governor.

The House committee vote was also unanimous. The measure currently carries three House sponsors – all Democrats – and the measure was stalled in the chamber last year, according to Chicago Tonight; however, with the overwhelming support in the Senate and the committee, Illinois appears posed to become the 36th state to legalize industrial hemp cultivation.

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