Illinois opens applications to grow industrial hemp

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There’s a new crop in town. Growers wanting to cash in on industrial hemp production for the first time in 80 years have the go-ahead.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday announced that online production applications are available for $100. After approval, one- to three-year licenses costing $375 to $1,000 may be purchased.

Illinois is now one of 40 states that allow some sort of production.

Hemp was once used widely to make rope and other products. But it and its cousin marijuana were essentially outlawed in 1937. Hemp has the mind-altering chemical THC like marijuana but at lower levels.

Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan said the agency will keep track of hemp plots and send inspectors to ensure the plants grown have harmless levels of THC.

Applications are available to the public for $100. 

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