Experts say Illinois could see growth of hemp industry

Field of hemp. Cannabis Sativa. Industrial kind (technical cannabis)

ROSEVILLE, Ill. – A farmer who was among the first to legally grow hemp in Illinois following its legalization this year believes the plant could be the state’s next big cash crop.

Hemp comes from the same plant as marijuana but doesn’t have THC, the compound that causes a high. Hemp can be turned into clothing, textiles, building materials, paper and food.

Andy Huston was among the first to grow hemp in Illinois on his Roseville-area farm. He tells the Chicago Tribune that he believes the crop could be more profitable than corn and soybeans once farmers learn how to raise and sell it.

Jeff Cox is chief of the Bureau of Medicinal Plants at the Illinois Department of Agriculture. He says about 150 people have expressed interest in growing hemp. Cox expects that number to increase once the state finalizes rules for hemp.