EDGAR COUNTY, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) – Local farmer Eli Wiley has brought an unconventional crop to his small Midwestern community.
Then Gov. Bruce Rauner made the harvest possible when he signed the Industrial Hemp Act back in 2018, legalizing the growth of hemp in the state.
On Oct. 9, Wiley harvested five acres of hemp, making this his first Illinois yield.
“Most of this will be going into CBD products. Some of it will be going into smoke-able hemp flower type of deal,” he explained. “You’ve got your pre-rolls your blunts and everything. A lot of it’s going to be going into like CBD oils and tinctures and salves and stuff like that.”
Wiley originally began his hemp journey with the intention to farm cannabis.
After moving to Denver, Colorado, he answered a Craig’s List add for planting and irrigation on a cannabis farm, instead he found himself among fields of hemp.
“I have a passion for hemp. It’s what I came up in,” Wiley said. “It’s what I learned. It’s actually how I was introduced to agriculture.”
He mastered the art of hand planting and harvesting the crop, and decided it was time to venture out and start his own farm in Illinois.
“It’s something new,” he said gesturing to the hemp plants drying in his barn. “It’s bringing a new commodity to the area that hasn’t really been tapped into very hard into this area.”
Common misconceptions aside, Wiley’s crop won’t get you high.
Hemp is regulated by the FDA, and can only contain 0.3% THC, the chemical responsible for making marijuana a mind altering substance.
“It’s not really getting people stoned. It doesn’t have a psycho-active effect from it,” he explained. “So like you get that rejuvenation of the body without an actual head high type of deal. “
Most of Wiley’s crop will end up in CBD products, which he hopes to see on local shelves before 2020.
In the meantime, while his crop processes, he plans to educate and encourage local farmers to pursue hemp.
“Even if you start small and work into bigger acreage, it’s a fun season,” he said. “It’s fun to have around and it brings a lot of good energy. And yea, happy hemping.”