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Gov. JB Pritzker Signs Bill Legalizing Recreational Marijuana In Illinois

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With Gov. JB Pritzker's signature Illinois is the 11th state to legalize marijuana, and the law is being called the most progressive in the country.

Because social justice plays a big role in what's law in Illinois on Jan. 1, the law includes criminal justice reform, giving back to communities affected by the war on drugs, even measures to level the playing field when it comes to breaking into the industry as a minority.

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"Our state once again is a leader," Pritzker said. "Putting forward the most equity-centric cannabis legalization in the nation."

Equity-centric starts with nearly 800,000 Illinois residents with criminal records related to marijuana. Anything involving less than 30 grams will be cleared.

But it doesn't stop there.

Studies show black and white people use cannabis at the same rates.

But according to the ACLU, black people make up 15% of Illinois' population and 60% of its pot possession arrests.

"That arrest is on someone's record," said Ed Yohnka, ACLU director of communications and public policy. "And it can affect a whole array of tings from employment to educational opportunities to housing opportunities."

The law promises 25% of tax revenue from marijuana to restore, reinvest and renew impoverished communities unfairly impacted by the war on drugs.

Another 20% is marked for substance abuse treatment programs.

And there's also a program, built in to help level the playing field with preference given to minority owners, a special fund to subsidize fees and the availability of low interest loans for minorities.

A job training program will launch in September 2020 and will be funded based on a community college's percentage of low income students.

"And this is just one step that we out to be looking at that really can begin to address the harm that we have done over all these years," said Yohnka.

Until Jan. 1 possession of marijuana is still a crime.

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