Southern Galesburg considered “disproportionately affected” by cannabis prohibition

Chief legislators behind Illinois’ recreational marijuana program have been vocal about how the state’s legalization of pot should benefit communities hit hardest by its prohibition.
Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration released maps on Monday that show which parts of the state qualify as “disproportionately affected areas” of what he calls the “war on marijuana.”

Those areas are those identified as having high rates of arrest, conviction, and incarceration related to cannabis, and also considers rates of poverty and unemployment.

Parts of Galesburg are included as disproportionately affected areas, chiefly South of Main Street and East of Lincoln Street.

Other local communities included are a part of Canton, a Western portion of Pekin, a Southern portion of Peoria and most of Havana.

Residents living in these zones could qualify for assistance and extra consideration in applying for a cannabis business license.

To qualify as a social equity applicant, the business has to be majority-owned by a resident of one of the areas, someone who has been arrested or convicted of a cannabis-related offense or have 10 full-time employees in which a majority fit the first two criteria.

The business would not necessarily have to be located in one of these areas to qualify.

Applications are being made available Tuesday and they will begin accepting them in December.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will launch a program later this year to provide low-interest loans to qualified social-equity applicants, but the office will also provide technical assistance and support for these applicants, on everything from putting a business plan together to applying for a license.

Gov. Pritzker said Monday that “it’s important to create opportunities in communities that have been hardest hit by the war on marijuana.”