Eighteen Illinois organizations have been awarded $1.4 million in grants from the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation to help expunge cannabis-related criminal records, WGEM reports. Beth Johnson, project manager for New Leaf Illinois, which was created by the foundation to address the state’s previous drug laws that disproportionately impacted communities of color, said the grants “will provide resources to organizations that are making a real difference in communities statewide.”
The 18 organizations working under New Leaf Illinois have already assisted 1,700 people this year with legal counseling and filling out forms for expungement. Leslie Corbett, executive director of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, told WGEM that 80% of those they have helped so far have more charges than just cannabis violations.
“It’s a broader issue than cannabis. But cannabis is really a gateway drug and sadly a gateway path to a criminal record.” — Corbett to WGEM
Gov. JB Pritzker (D) told WGEM that the state “has done more to put justice and equity at the forefront of this industry than any other state in the nation and has worked to ensure that communities hurt by the war on drugs have had the opportunity to participate.”
“The $1.5 billion in sales of adult-use cannabis in Illinois translates into significant tax revenue,” he said, “with a portion of every dollar spent being reinvested in communities that have suffered for decades.”
Through its Restore, Reinvest, and Renew program, the state has invested $113.5 million in grants into communities that were most impacted by the war on drugs, gun violence, unemployment, imprisonment, and child poverty.
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