The governor of Illinois says that the state’s marijuana legalization law has created more than 30,000 jobs since the market launched in 2020.
During his State of the State and Budget address on Wednesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) touted the job creation figure, adding that “Illinois is home to the country’s most diverse cannabis industry and some of the largest companies.”
He also included the marijuana company 4Front in a list of the “large businesses” that are “moving to and expanding in Illinois.”
Job creation is just one way that legalization has impacted the economy in Illinois. The state also saw cannabis sales reach a record high of more than $1.5 billion in 2022, according to data released last month.
Officials also touted the fact that there are more than 100 dispensaries operating in the state, including three social equity licensees that were approved last year after a protracted effort by the administration to start fulfilling equity goals.
Last year, Pritzker separately touted the state’s marijuana sales and resulting tax revenue for the 2022 Fiscal Year. Illinois collected $445.3 million in tax dollars from $1.5 billion in cannabis sales during that period. That’s a 50 percent increase is cannabis tax dollars compared to the prior fiscal year.
But there’s still work to be done, officials concede. In September, state regulators released a report that revealed a glaring lack of diversity among business owners in the adult-use marijuana market. It also outlined a plan to begin turning that around in the current fiscal year, with the industry set to significantly expand as nearly 200 new social equity businesses come online.
The governor and other state officials have emphasized that they’re committed to ensuring that portions of tax revenue from the marijuana market go toward community reinvestment, as prescribed under the state’s legalization law.
Illinois officials announced last year that the state was awarding $45 million in grants funded by marijuana tax dollars to support community reinvestment in areas “hardest hit by the failed war on drugs.”
That marked the second round of funding that’s been made available through the state’s Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program, which was established under Illinois’s adult-use cannabis legalization law.
In 2021, state officials also put $3.5 million in cannabis-generated funds toward efforts to reduce violence through street intervention programs.
In addition to providing community reinvestment funding, the governor announced in 2020 that his office had processed more than 500,000 expungements and pardons for people with low-level cannabis convictions on their records.
Pritzker also signed legislation last year that will make it so courts cannot deny petitions to expunge or seal records based on a positive drug test for marijuana.
A state-funded initiative was also established to help residents with marijuana convictions get legal aid and other services to have their records expunged.
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