For most of the states that have legalized cannabis sales, cashing in on cannabis’ burgeoning demand wasn’t the only objective. Aside from beefing up their coffers with cannabis tax revenue, states were looking to repair the harms done by the decade’s long war on drugs. In several states, social equity was a primary objective, with policymakers pledging to direct a large chunk of cannabis tax revenue towards communities that were disproportionately affected by the drug war.
The state of Illinois, which enjoyed increased cannabis sales in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic, has announced that it is distributing $31.5 million in grants to communities that suffered the brunt of the misguided war on drugs. Funded by cannabis tax revenue, the funds are part of Illinois’ Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program. The program was established under the state’s recreational cannabis legalization law, and it requires that 25% of marijuana tax dollars be used to provide people who qualify for social equity with services such as legal aid, community reentry, youth development and financial support.
The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (“ICJIA”) reportedly received 398 completed applications for the grant, ultimately settling on 80 organizations that offer the aforementioned services to eligible communities. Board chair Lt. Gov. Julianna Stratton, who has repeatedly emphasized the need to pair legalization with social equity, says the state practiced due diligence when reviewing the applications. She says that the R3 program will address “chronic” problems that have been left unaddressed for far too long in the state’s “underserved neighborhoods.”
More than $28 million of the funds will go to service delivery while the remaining $3.1 million will be directed towards assessment and planning initiatives. With Illinois’ cannabis industry reporting more than $1 billion in sales for both medical and recreational marijuana, the state has a beefy enough tax revenue base to work with. To choose the most suitable organizations for the grants, the ICJIA analyzed local data on topics such as gun violence, unemployment, poverty and incarceration rates coupled with information provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
The organizations that were eventually chosen got the opportunity because they had the knowledge and resources to enact change in communities that suffered the most from the effects of the drug war. Communities United, for instance, will use the grant to provide low-income people with legal aid, especially concerning housing rights. The Chicago Torture Justice Center, another institution given a grant, will help formerly incarcerated people as well as those who have experienced police violence re-enter the community.
The rapidly growing cannabis industry has also created space for companies making nonhallucinogenic cannabis products. For instance, The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (NASDAQ: WTER) (CSE: WTER), based in Arizona, started out making alkaline drinking water that addressed the needs of consumers who were interested in the alkaline diet. The company has now evolved to include CBD-infused products to its offerings.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (NASDAQ: WTER) (CSE: WTER) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://cnw.fm/WTER
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