Local organizations awarded grants funded by marijuana tax revenue

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Tax revenue generated by the legalization of marijuana is being reinvested in communities across the state, including Central Illinois.

As part of the bill that legalized marijuana in Illinois, 25 percent of the tax revenue goes to communities hit the hardest by what some lawmakers call the “failed war on drugs”.

“Those communities are largely black and brown communities, those communities suffer from a great deal of disinvestment, those communities suffer from a great deal of crime and violence,” said State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, 92nd District-(D).

This year, through the program known as Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3), $45 million dollars are being issued to community-based organizations throughout the state.

“In order to be able to tackle many of the issues in those communities, you have to have resources in order to do so,” Gordon-Booth said.

Locally, Peoria’s House of Hope is one of the organizations receiving funding to increase their ability to address violence.

“Creating that beloved community, having guys like myself and others I know who used to be part of the problem, now we’re part of the solution,” said Terry Burnside, executive director of House of Hope.

Through R3 funding, Peoria’s ART Inc. has employed around 30 youth. They are using art and technology to educate the public on harmful narratives impacting inner cities.

“You hear all the time snitches get stitches, but when have you heard a counter-narrative to that,” said Jonathan Romain, co-founder of ART Inc. Peoria. “You can’t do anything about some of the worst elements of the community because they don’t want to be labeled this negative concept”.

46th District-(D) State Senator Dave Koehler said safer and thriving communities begin by investing in them.

“Where we can provide jobs, provide entrepreneurial opportunities, where it can really turn some things around,” Koehler said.

Last year, Peoria Public Schools received an R3 grant to support its Wraparound Center. The money has been used to address areas including youth development and re-entry services.

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