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Illinois Legislators are Threatening the State's Hemp Industry

Illinois Hemp 2021 Heat Map

We've updated our Map of Processors and Growers. All publicly available information submitted by Illinois hemp license holders is now live for you to easily navigate and download. It's another great tool for you to use to make some connections and save yourself some time! We also have a spreadsheet with all of the data available at the bottom of the same page. Explore and enjoy!


Illinois Hemp Industry Under Attack

Remember the CBD Safety Act from last year? It wasn't very clear and didn't end up going anywhere.


The Act is back this year and it's still not very clear, but it has already passed through the House and is moving through the Senate. One thing is clear about it though: it's bad news for the hemp industry.


HB147 seeks to harm the hemp industry in Illinois. It's being paraded by legislators as the solution to a public health crisis. It won't actually make you any safer but it will serve to protect the interests of legal cannabis oligarchs and the tax revenue they generate.


The Harms of HB147

These are quotes from Rep. Bob Morgan, who introduced this Act, regarding his latest attempt to pass legislation that is clearly oppressive to Illinois' hemp industry:

“You have all seen CBD stores and kiosks, but right now they are completely unregulated in Illinois," Morgan said. "They are untested, they are unsafe, they include heavy metals and chemicals and pesticides."
“This is a public health crisis,” Morgan said “Thousands of people in Illinois are buying products labeled as CBD, Delta-8, or other hemp derivatives, without any way of being sure what these products contain. Some may not contain any CBD or hemp at all.”

(if you want to read more about hemp derived CBD or Delta-8, check out our blog from September)


To suggest that all hemp is completely unregulated, untested and unsafe without evidence is suspicious. At the very least, all hemp has an accompanying certificate of analysis (potency testing) attached to it throughout its lifecycle in the supply chain.


Any reputable vendor of hemp and its derivatives is already screening their products for heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants (full panel testing) voluntarily and will gladly provide documentation to prove it to any potential customer. These tests are identical to what the standard is in Illinois' legal cannabis industry.


Vendors of hemp that don't provide full panel test results of their products should not be required by State law to do so. Consumers should be allowed to make their own choices with hemp like they do when shopping for any other product. Consumers can choose to buy organic if they want goods that were produced without the use of conventional pesticides. The USDA has been certifying hemp as organic for more than 5 years.


Comparatively, it wouldn't be prudent for Illinois to require expensive testing and a label to warn consumers about how much cadmium is in every bag of carrots sold in the State in the name of protecting the public health either. People consume products on a daily basis that include heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides. The FDA maintains a list of foods containing pesticides, heavy metals and other elements.


The point is we haven't seen any hard data to back up these extraordinary claims about hemp from Rep. Morgan or any of his cohorts supporting this bill. If HB147 was truly about improving public safety then it would require full panel testing for every product sold in Illinois that people put in their bodies, not just cannabinoids.


Good legislation is based on science and evidence, not on anecdotes and anticompetitive behavior under the guise of improving public safety.


Hemp Shops are Not a Public Health Crisis

Top 10 public health crises in 2021 according to the CDC:

  1. COVID-19

  2. Mental Health Conditions

  3. Alcohol and Substance Abuse

  4. Foodborne Illness

  5. Healthcare-Associated Infections

  6. Heart Disease and Stroke

  7. HIV/AIDS

  8. Motor Vehicle Injuries

  9. Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

  10. Prescription Drug Overdose

"Anecdotes of contaminated or improperly labeled hemp derivatives" Does not belong on this list.


HB147 is Anticompetitive and Inappropriate

Cannabinoids derived from hemp are satisfying thousands of people in Illinois' demand for cannabis outside of the carefully crafted legal cannabis ecosystem that Rep. Morgan helped to create here in Illinois.


For those lucky enough to be one of the few cultivation license holders in the State, Illinois' legal cannabis system is flawlessly designed. It has made them oligarchs with the ability to capture an obscene amount of revenue from consumers with almost no competition. It's shooting fish in a barrel.


On the flipside, the legal cannabis industry in Illinois has disproportionately excluded people who have been hurt the most by the war on drugs. The Extremely high cost of entry and arbitrarily strict limits on the number of licenses have disqualified many potential participants by default.


The real crisis for Rep. Morgan and his cohorts is that sales of hemp derivatives are starting to have a negative affect on the revenue of Illinois' legal cannabis oligarchs and the taxes they generate. HB147 is a blatant attempt to mitigate this by creating a new burden of regulatory uncertainty on the hemp industry.


The hemp industry in Illinois should not be subject to the costly and inequitable rules of the legal cannabis industry. Testing and labeling requirements of the legal cannabis industry are clearly meant to regulate prescription medication and legal cannabis is sold by weight at prices 10 times higher than hemp.


The legal cannabis and hemp industries should not be forced to operate on a level playing field. It will disproportionately effect people who operate small hemp businesses. Many small hemp businesses are run by people who have been excluded from the legal cannabis industry and hurt by the war on drugs.


Where was the concern from the legal cannabis industry over operating on a level playing field when social equity applicants asked for a fair shot at a cultivation, craft, dispensary, infusion, and transportation licenses? The Industry’s lobbying muscle is spending a lot of money to keep people out of these economic opportunities. It would be a slap in the face to people who were denied legal cannabis licenses if they still end up being subjected to the rules of an industry they have not been allowed to participate in.


Legislative Outreach

It's clear how much of failure the current legal cannabis industry is for the citizens of Illinois. It's also clear that HB147 is an unsalvageable piece of legislation. Help keep the interests of Illinois' legal cannabis oligarchs out of the hemp industry and tell your State Senator that HB147 needs to be tabled in the Senate immediately.


We have recently launched our Legislative Outreach Program which you can participate in for free. It will teach you how to effectively engage with your Representatives and use your voice to make change for the hemp industry in Illinois. Once you complete the Program, you will be awarded with a new badge you can show off in your next Forum post!


Special Thanks

A very special thank you goes out to Natascha Neptune and the S.E.E.N. team for their help and collaboration on this blog post. We appreciate your input and look forward to working together more in the future! Please visit the Social Equity Empowerment Network to learn more.

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