More Than $205.4 Million In Cannabis Taxes Collected In Illinois As Nonprofits Receive First Round Of Grants

ILLINOIS — About $31 million from adult-use cannabis taxes is going to nonprofits in Illinois as part of the Restore, Reinvest and Renew, or R3 program, and it’s not all going to Chicago.

Cannabis sales for January neared $90 million. Since adult-use sales began in January 2020, nearly $757.9 million in cannabis has been sold. The taxes on that can be more than 40%, depending on the potency and whether a local sales tax is added on to the state taxes.

For the state’s taxes, the total collected from January 2020 through last month totaled more than $205.4 million dollars.

More than a third of the revenue goes to the state’s general revenue fund. Ten percent goes to the state’s backlog of unpaid bills. Eight percent goes to law enforcement and two percent goes to cannabis public safety campaigns.

A quarter of every cannabis tax dollar collected goes to the R3 program by law. The first round of such funding was announced late last month. Nearly 400 nonprofits applied for the first round. Only 80 were chosen, and they’re all over the state in areas impacted by gun violence, youth poverty and other factors.

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said the money will be very helpful for areas in his district if it’s properly used for economic development, violence prevention and re-entry programs.

“It’s going to be a positive impact on the communities if those that have been awarded the money turn from the past and budget for results and not just have money out there without results,” Ford said.

The Pritzker administration said the programs “will offer evidence-based, promising, or innovative practices within the R3 Program Priority Areas of civil legal aid, economic development, community re-entry from the criminal justice system, violence prevention, and youth development.”

In Springfield, East Springfield Community Center Commission Executive Director Dameon Johnson is getting two grants for a total of $808,000. He hopes his Project Returning American Citizens Empowered, or RACE, will be a model for other reentry programs to cut down on recidivism.

“We see this as an opportunity to start something that could be transcendent across the country and we want to be that model so we don’t want to make mistakes to take away that trust,” Johnson said. “We want to take advantage of that opportunity and hopefully be able to grow this program.”

The largest grant of the 80 announced is going to Emerald South in Cook County for $2.5 million for youth and economic development and violence prevention. The smallest grant of $20,000 goes to Family Resources in the northwest region of the state for violence prevention and youth development.

State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said it’s important every dollar is tracked.

“As the cannabis sales increase and tax revenue increases for that, the potential for even more money coming down the pike is there and so we just gotta have a good system in place of making sure that we’re keeping track of it so that it’s being spent in the right way,” Butler said.

The Center Square – Greg Bishop

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.