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Legal recreational marijuana in Illinois allows for reparations tax fund

The new year ushered in legalized cannabis for another state.

The new year brought legalized recreational use marijuana to Illinois. The state became the 11th to legalize cannabis for adult consumption and is making headway with an even more progressive new ruling.

According to CNN, Illinois residents flocked to opened dispensaries on Wednesday morning (Jan. 1). Even Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton got in line, as one of the supporters of the law.

“For too long, IL residents, particularly those that are black & brown, have been targeted and criminalized for #cannabis possession,” she tweeted. “It’s not just a new year, it’s a new day. Thank you, [Gov. JB Pritzker], for ending prohibition and building a more equitable Illinois.”

Residents over 21 years old can now possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, five grams of cannabis concentrate and up to 500 milligrams of edible THC. Non-residents can purchase half that amount.

Beyond putting a stop to the systemically racist “War on Drugs,” one Illinois town is going even further. Back in November, Evanston, IL approved a vote that created a reparations fund from marijuana sales tax revenue to go toward educational and other opportunities for Black residents. Now that the legalized sale of marijuana has begun, the program can launch alongside it.

“We can implement funding to directly invest in Black Evanston,” Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, who proposed the bill, previously told The Chicago Tribune, adding that the funds will “be invested in the community it unfairly policed and damaged.”

The Chicago Tribune further reports that the reparations program is the first of its kind. A resident-formed committee led the conversation in which ways to best divert the fund’s money, which will be capped at $10 million, ranging from housing, education and economic programs. The city estimates that the marijuana tax could generate $500,000 to $750,000 annually.

“I support the approval of the ordinance for the city of Evanston to commit all of the anticipated tax revenue from the recreational marijuana businesses, to support work aimed at intentionally repairing harms done to the Black community from policies and practices in so many different areas,” Evanston resident Oliver Ruff told the outlet.

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