Illinois R3 Program Provides Example of Marijuana Funding Community Reinvestment

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton recently announced that the R3 program that uses marijuana tax dollars to fund grants for community reinvestment now has more than $45 million available.

Illinois made adult-use cannabis legal in 2019. Part of the bill that established the legal sales system also created the Restore, Reinvest and Renew program, commonly called the R3 program.  The program looks to provide economic aid to communities harmed by violence, excessive incarceration and economic disinvestment.

Pritzker said the funds make a difference in communities across the state. Since legalization, and with the recent addition of $45 million, the state now has put $80 million toward the marijuana-funded grants, thanks to incredible marijuana sales.

“We’re prioritizing investments in communities that were previously harmed for what is now legal,” Pritzker said at a news conference. “The positive impact of these dollars looks different in every community because after decades of trauma, restoring justice requires a multi-pronged effort in every community.”

What the Illinois R3 Program Does

Established as part of the marijuana legalization law, the R3 program provides cannabis-funded grants for programs in five areas:

  • Civil Legal Aid
  • Economic Development
  • Reentry From the Justice System
  • Violence Prevention
  • Youth Development

In the latest round of grants, Illinois leaders said $40.5 million is available for organizations that already provide services in these areas. Smaller organizations can apply for the remaining $4.5 million for use in building up their capacity to provide these services.

Creating a More Equitable Future

In Illinois, the R3 effort is governed by a board chaired by Stratton that includes state government leaders, community members, lawmakers, people impacted by incarceration, and service providers. At the news conference, Stratton said the program addresses harms of the past and creates a more equitable future.

“Solutions to the challenges that our neighborhoods face can be found in those very communities,” Stratton said. “R3 seeks to invest in organizations that have the closest ties to the communities they serve.”

The state determines which areas are eligible for funding in part by researching the rate of gun injuries, child poverty, unemployment and incarceration in the area, according to the R3 program website.

Other states also are using a portion of marijuana tax dollars to reinvest in communities. For example, California uses cannabis tax revenue to support social equity initiatives in the cannabis industry. They also use these dollars to speed up the cannabis business license application process.

California also uses cannabis dollars to fund nonprofit organizations through the California Community Reinvestment Grants program. Colorado has used cannabis tax dollars to fund the building of schools and literacy programs.

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