Chicago Suburb To Use Marijuana Sales Tax To Pay For Reparations For African American Community

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A Chicago suburb home to Northwestern University has approved a reparations bill that will use tax revenue from marijuana as a funding source.

Illinois passed a legal marijuana bill last year.

The bill goes into effect on January 1, 2020. The goal of the program, according to its sponsors, is to fix the lingering institutional effects of slavery and discrimination from the war on drugs.

From The Chicago Tribune:

Evanston aldermen on Monday approved directing all sales tax revenue collected from recreational marijuana purchases to a fund that will establish a local reparations program.

Officials say the program will help the city’s black population stay in Evanston while also providing training for jobs and other benefits.

“We can implement funding to directly invest in black Evanston,” said Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, who proposed the reparations bill.

While Evanston officials have voted to permit, tax and appropriate money from recreational marijuana sales, many other suburbs have voted not to allow recreational marijuana dispensaries to open when the businesses become legal next year under state law.

Evanston leaders say they see the dispensaries as an opportunity to pay for a local reparations program that would address the lingering institutional effects of slavery and discrimination. The proposal passed 8-1, with Ald. Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, voting against it.

Simmons said the source of the money was especially appropriate, as many black residents were victims of the “war on drugs” and spent time in jail for smoking marijuana, a substance that in specific quantities will now be permitted in Illinois.

The tax on marijuana will “be invested in the community it unfairly policed and damaged,” Simmons said.