Marijuana will be legalized in Illinois January 1
The city’s cops have a history of disproportionately arresting black residents for marijuana possession
Evanston, a leafy North Shore suburb of Chicago, will spend tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana to establish a reparations program for African Americans who live in the city.
The city’s aldermen, with one exception, passed the program by a vote of 8-1 on November 27, making it the first city in the country to approve a reparations program. Once established, it will provide job training and other benefits to assist the blacks in remaining there, according to various news reports.
Adults 21 and older will be able to purchase marijuana from licensed sellers and use it beginning January 1, 2020. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the legislation into law in August. Illinois will be the 11th state to legalize marijuana.
Marianne Williamson, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, has made reparations a centerpiece of her campaign.
Evanston has nine aldermen for its nine wards. Stephen H. Hagerty is mayor.
Evanston, an upper middle-class suburb, which is home to the main campus of Northwestern University, has huge residential homes along Lake Michigan leading up to some of wealthiest suburban communities, including Kenilworth, Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe and Lake Forest.
In 2017, Evanston’s median income was $77, 821, which is more than the median of $60,336 for the rest of the U.S.
Fifth Ward Evanston Alderman Robin Rue Simmons said during a television interview with CBS-Chicago that blacks in Evanston have suffered from redlining and the money will help change things.
In the 2017 book “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,” author Richard Rothstein, who spoke at Evanston Township High School, said relining by government officials was pervasive throughout the country.
Redlining destroyed or marginalized black neighborhoods, forcing blacks to move elsewhere.The book is published by Liveright Publishing Corporation.
In 2000, Evanston’s black population was 22.5 percent. It was 16.9 percent in 2017. In 2016, the city’s population was 74, 895.
The new fund will be capped at $10 million. The project’s new tax could pull in $500,000 to $800,000, annually, according to various published reports.
Simmons told WBEZ Radio in Chicago that she believes cannabis tax revenue is an appropriate source of funding for reparations because the city has a history of disproportionately arresting black residents for marijuana possession.
“Money will be invested in the community that the war on drugs… unfairly policed and damaged,” said Alderman Simmons.