Illinois to Disburse $45 Million to Social Programs Thanks to Cannabis

Illinois administrators made it clear on Wednesday that forms are unfurling for $45 million in new grant programs—funded by cannabis tax income—that will support agendas meant to reinvest in neighborhoods most impacted by by failed the drug war.

This will be the second round of grant  funding to be disbursed via the Illinois Restore, Reinvest, and Renew, also known as ‘R3’ program. The R3 program was installed under Illinois’s adult-use cannabis legalization reform. The measure requires 25 percent of cannabis tax revenue to be embedded in the R3 fund and utilized to provide marginalized citizens with services like legal aid, childhood development, neighborhood reentry and financial sponsorship.

“In the search for justice, progress isn’t feasible without responsibility. We must acknowledge and address the impact caused by the failed  war on cannabis, which imprisoned countless nonviolent fugitives and ripped apart families and communities in the process,” Governor J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) expressed at a press conference earlier this week.

“That is the root principle of Illinois cannabis legalization system and what sets Illinois apart from additional states that have legalized cannabis: [Illinois] is prioritizing investments in neighborhoods that were previously impacted for what is now permitted,” he stated.

Earlier this spring, $31.5 million in R3 funding was distributed to nearly 100 organizations. The notable increase in grant funding this time around mirrors the uptick in retail cannabis sales that Illinois has witness over the past year, specifically with a few record-breaking months.

“The R3 timetable transcends because [Illinois] is intentional about putting criminally-impacted citizens, neighborhood activists, and provincial stakeholders at the forefront of our debate to make this program employable for the marginalized groups of people it was designed for,” Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton (D-IL) expressed in a statement delievered to a popular cannabis news source.

Community grooups that received grants via the first R3 round will have their allowance refreshed for another fiscal year to guarantee that they can continue supplying services in their neighborhoods. In grant funding, this is known as the sustainability portion of the original ask.

“Thanks to  every step of this cannabis reform process, we’ve been very purposeful about securing these grants go to the neighborhoods that need them [the most] and that [the grant funds] are used to benefit the people [affected by the war on drugs,]” Stratton expressed. “We’ve also held [the Illinois government] accountable.”

Angelica Arroyo, leader at a notable Chicago youth boxing organization, expressed how the organization has used cannabis revenue to cultivate (pun intended.)

“Thanks to the R3 grant, the Chicago Youth Boxing Club was able to do more,” she stated. “We stayed open amidst COVID-19 and that gave us a substantial amount of neighborhood exposure. Our club now has more girls boxing than ever before. I’m proud.”

After disbursing the first grants at the start of the year, administrators assembled a working party to suggest how to distribute funding in the years ahead of most effectively.

They’ve also worked to create a merit-based funding application review procedure, with an autonomous group made up of individuals who symbolize R3 areas going through prejudice training prior to determining allowance eligibility.

“We understand the R3 programs will have an instantaneous and generational influence, so we must be, and are, intentional about forming a system for long-term, sustainable grant funding to do this significant work,” the lieutenant governor expressed.

“Let me make one thing very clear: We are not finished. And today’s press release is a testament to the work ahead,” Stratton stated at an event held earlier this week. “We have more labor to complete to alleviate the harm caused by the failed war on drugs.”

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