FILE - In this June 25, 2019 file photo, Gov. J. B. Pritzker holds a bill that legalizes adult-use cannabis in the state of Illinois accompanied by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, left, and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, right, in Chicago. Illinois becomes the 11th to legalize the adult-use of recreational marijuana. Like in other states before it, advocates of legalizing recreational marijuana use in Illinois want the law to look backward as well as forward. It conscientiously attempts to ensure that those who profit from growing and selling the weed have substantial representation from the mostly impoverished neighborhoods nailed the hardest by decades of drug crackdowns. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky File)

Illinois marijuana law aims to undo harm of war on the drug

November 02, 2019 - 6:05 am

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — When lawmakers crafted the law legalizing marijuana in Illinois, they tried to make sure it would right what many see as past wrongs linked to the drug.

In addition to expunging hundreds of thousands of criminal records for marijuana arrests and convictions, the law's architects added provisions meant to benefit communities that have been the most adversely affected by law enforcement's efforts to combat the drug.

The so-called social equity provisions are expected to help black applicants, in particular, as blacks are nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana, the American Civil Liberties Union found.

The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, also established ways for qualified applicants to pay lower licensing fees and get business loans and technical assistance. And it earmarked part of marijuana sales revenue for neighborhood development grants.

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