Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) is hailing today’s passage of a recreational cannabis bill into law.
She said the criminal justice reforms in the bill serve as reparations and help repair the harm done by the so-called “War on Drugs” over the past four decades.
“After 40 years of treating entire communities like criminals, here comes this multi-billion dollar industry, and guess what? Black and brown people have been put at the very center of this policy," she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union reports black Americans are 7.5 to 8.,5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites in Illinois, despite similar overall usage numbers.
Twenty-five percent of the tax revenue generated by legalization will go towards the Restore, Reinvest and Renew Program to aid communities most impacted by economic disinvestment, violence and the lingering effects of incarceration linked to heavier penalties during the War on Drugs.
Under the bill, 700,000 criminal convictions are also eligible for expungement. Gordon-Booth was heavily involved in the criminal justice aspects of the legalization bill.
"Governor Pritzker and our legislative leaders have recognized through this law that any opportunity to advance the legal cannabis industry must also address how the war on drugs continues to afflict communities," said Revolution Cannabis CEO Mark de Souza in prepared remarks. "By removing thousands of cannabis misdemeanors and producing thousands of jobs across the state, they have done an extraordinary service to jumpstart communities across Illinois."
Revolution Cannabis runs a cannabis cultivation facility in Delavan and a dispensary in the Chicago suburb of Mount Prospect.
Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Maisch said that while he's had reservations about legalizing cannabis, he believes the legislation passed will allow businesses and local communities some flexibility in deciding how legalization looks.
"We believe the bill Governor Pritzker signed today, includes the strongest workplace protections in the nation, and maintains sturdy local control over zoning. We appreciate the cooperation and understanding of the importance of workplace protections for employers, employees and the public," said Maisch in a prepared statement.
House Bill 1438 allows employers to maintain zero-tolerance drug policies related to cannabis usage, and also gives local municipalities wide leeway over the breadth of cannabis availability and usage in their juristicitions.