Illinois to reinvest in communities through money from marijuana

Illinois Capitol News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– The governor and lawmakers are calling the legislation legalizing recreational, adult usage the most equity-centric law involving marijuana in the entire country.
On top of expunging hundreds of thousands of records, the bill also creates a program aimed to revive communities where some of those people getting a fresh start will be re-entering.

Leaders in the black community are calling a program passed as a part of the marijuana bill a win for the state.

“Right now, I think under the leadership of our new governor, we are going down a new path,” said Shawn Gregory of The Gregory Foundation. “We know our most poverty-ridden communities have suffered from when it wasn’t legal. With it being legal, I think it’s important to try to correct and at least address some things [regarding] people who have been incarcerated for it.”

Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton’s Office will help administer 25 percent of the sales tax revenue from marijuana to a program called R3. The program was created to recover, renew and reinvest in communities plagued by gun violence and the war on drugs.

“This is justice. And this is what equity is all about; righting wrongs and leveling the playing field,” Stratton said.

Advocates said the program is all about giving people their best chance to start over.

“If you have a community with a lot of returning prisoners that can’t find jobs, then they get in trouble again, or they cause violence in the community, this is a chance for that community to try to help connect them to jobs, connect them to mental health services, mentoring, education, those kinds of things to help them get back on their feet and hopefully remain crime free,” said Jim Bray, spokesman for the Illinois Justice Project.

The program will be paid for by money that’s left over from administration and expungement costs. Advocates believe funding for the first year could be around 10 million dollars.

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