At the end of August 2018, former Gov. Rauner passed the Illinois Industrial Hemp Act, which lifts restrictions on the production of industrial hemp in Illinois.
The Act became law on the coat tails of the 2018 Farm Bill, which no longer makes hemp a schedule one drug. The Act provides that “no person shall cultivate industrial hemp in Illinois without a license issued by the Department of Agriculture.” Licenses will cost $1,100 ($100 to apply and $1,000 for the license itself).
The Department was given 120 days to set the rules for applying for licenses. Draft rules were issued in late December, and lawmakers will have to approve rules later this spring after a 90-day public comment period. The Illinois Department of Agriculture's proposed rules for the state's Industrial Hemp Act include:
- No person shall cultivate industrial hemp in the state without first receiving an Industrial Hemp Cultivation License from the department.
- No person shall process or handle industrial hemp in the state without first receiving a processor/handler registration from the department.
- The minimum land area for industrial hemp cultivation shall be a contiguous land area of one quarter of an acre for outdoor cultivation and 500 square feet for indoor cultivation.
- An applicant for a license or registration shall be subject to a criminal background check conducted by the Illinois State Police or another state or federal law enforcement agency approved by the department and paid for by the applicant. Applications must be submitted at least 90 days prior to planting (applicant information on page 7 of the attachment).
- Thirty days prior to planting, each licensee shall file a Pre-Planting Report. At least 30 days prior to harvest, each licensee shall file a Harvest Report, and no later than February 1 of each year, each licensee shall submit an Industrial Hemp Cultivator Final Report.
- All industrial hemp plants are subject to sampling and testing to verify that the delta-9 THC concentration does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
- The application fee for a cultivation license shall be $100 for each noncontiguous land area and each indoor cultivate area. The license fee for each area shall be $1,000.
- The application fee for a processor registration shall be $100 for each address, and upon approval of an application, the registration fee for each registered address operated by a processor shall be $1,000.
The first period for public comments ended on Feb. 11. The responses to those comments will open up a second notice period that will last for at least 45 days. Once approved, the Department will begin accepting applications for industrial hemp licenses and registrations. The hope is to have everything ready so farmers can get seeds planted by June 1 for an optimal growing season.
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