Cannabis equity group proposes changes to bill
Advocates from the Cannabis Equity Illinois Coalition rally for cannabis legalization and associated equity measures on Tuesday at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Jerry Nowicki)
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – A group supporting recreational marijuana legalization spoke outside the governor’s office Tuesday, touting a recently-filed legalization plan while suggesting a few changes.
The Cannabis Equity Illinois Coalition lobbied for “no fine, no time” for people younger than 21 who are caught in possession of marijuana under the new legislation. Instead, they said, penalties should be placed on those selling the drugs.
“We are here to ensure a system that puts black and brown folks at the forefront for opportunity, specifically those that were targeted by the war on drugs,” said Alexandria Boutros, who led the Coalition’s rally.
The group shared stories of friends and family who were incarcerated for drug possession, and said those whose records are expunged as part of the bill should have an opportunity to find employment in the industry.
“There has been a harm committed in our communities,” equity advocate Alonzo Waheed said. “This is the time that we can come forward and make it right.”
Waheed said barriers to the industry need to be reduced for communities impacted disproportionately by the war on drugs. He also suggested the legislation should create workforce development, skills trainings and outreach programs to create opportunity in those areas.
Still, he said expungement is the most important measure.
“None of that means anything if you do not release individuals and clear their backgrounds,” he said. “For us to have true equity, we need to transform. That’s transforming our mindsets, transforming our policies, and we need to start doing that today.”