Photo by Mohammad Khan

Illinois Announces Marijuana-Funded Grants for Communities

Illinois officials announced this week that applications are opening for $45 million in new grants — funded by marijuana tax revenue — to support programs meant to reinvest in communities most harmed by the War on Drugs.

This will be the second round of funding issued through the state’s Restore, Reinvest and Renew (R3) program, which was established under Illinois’s adult-use cannabis legalization policy. The law requires 25% of marijuana tax dollars to go into that fund and be used to provide disadvantaged people with legal aid, youth development, community reentry and financial support.

“In the pursuit of justice, progress isn’t possible without accountability. We must acknowledge and address the trauma inflicted by the war on cannabis, which incarcerated countless nonviolent offenders and tore apart families and neighborhoods in the process,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said at a news conference.

Don’t miss our 50 at 50 series: one current or former prisoner published a day until New Year’s Day 2022.

“That is the core tenet of [the] Illinois cannabis legalization framework and what sets Illinois apart from other states that have legalized: We’re prioritizing investments in communities that were previously harmed for what is now legal,” he said.

Earlier this year, $31.5 million in R3 grants were distributed to 80 organizations. The sizable increase in funding this time around reflects the boom in cannabis sales that Illinois has seen over the past year, with multiple record-breaking months.

“The R3 program is transformative because we were intentional about putting justice-impacted people, community activists and local stakeholders at the center of our discussions to make this program work for those it was created for,” Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton (D) said.

Organizations that received grants through the initial R3 round will have their funding renewed for another year to ensure they can continue providing services in their communities.

“Through every step of this process, we’ve been very intentional about ensuring these grants go to the communities that need them and that they are used to benefit the people,” Stratton said. “We’ve also held ourselves accountable.”

Angelica Arroyo, manager at the Chicago Youth Boxing Club, spoke about how the organization has used cannabis revenue to grow.

“Because of the R3 grant we were able to do more,” she said. “We stayed open during COVID and that gave us more community exposure. We now have more girls who are boxing, too. I’m proud of that.”

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After issuing the first grants at the beginning of the year, officials convened a working group to make recommendations on how to most effectively disperse funding in the years to come.

They’ve also worked to develop a merit-based grant application review process, with an independent body of people who represent R3 zones going through bias training before determining funding eligibility.

“We know these programs will have immediate and generational impact so we must be, and are, deliberate about creating a framework for long-term, sustainable funding to do this important work,” the lieutenant governor said.

“Let me make this clear: We are not done. And today’s announcement is a testament to that,” Stratton said. “We have more work to do to repair the harm. We have more work to do to fill seats at the table. And we now have the program that was built for this journey.”

This piece is part of a content-sharing arrangement between The News Station and Marijuana Moment.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE, etc.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE, etc.

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