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Illinois farmers produce 2.3 million pounds of hemp in first year

Charles Bertram/Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois farmers produced 2.3 million pounds of industrial hemp in the first year of legal cultivation in decades, state officials said.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture began issuing hemp-production permits last spring after production was legalized. Of 651 licenses granted, 514 planted at least one acre. Nearly three-quarters of the acreage planted was harvested.

Hemp is related to marijuana and even though the psychoactive chemical THC is much lower than it is in marijuana, hemp was illegal from the 1940s until Illinois legalized it in 2018.

“The department has been diligently working to open markets for growers to sell their hemp," Agriculture director Jerry Costello said. "We recently developed a policy allowing licensed hemp growers to sell product to licensed cannabis cultivators for use in medical and adult-use cannabis products.”

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Harvest numbers included biomass, flower, seed, and stalk. There were 1.6 million pounds (725,709 kilograms) of biomass and 595,000 pounds (270,000 kilograms) of flower harvested. Those are the hemp products typically used for CBD oil, stalks for industrial use and seed to be planted or used for hemp seed oil.