(The Center Square) – In the nearly two years since Illinois legalized adult-use cannabis sales, hundreds of millions in taxes have been collected. A quarter is set for community-based programs in certain areas.

Since sales began on Jan. 1, 2020, the limited number of adult-use cannabis dispensaries have sold more than $1.9 billion. The total taxes collected are $562.7 million. Taxes can be up to 40%, depending on the potency.

The taxes are split several ways. More than a third goes to the state’s general revenue fund. Ten percent goes to unpaid bills. Eight percent goes to law enforcement and two percent goes to public safety campaigns.

Nearly a quarter of every cannabis tax dollar goes to community groups through the Restore, Reinvest and Renew Program.

“Areas eligible for funding were identified using community-level data on gun injury, child poverty, unemployment, and state prison commitments and returns, combined with disproportionately impacted areas identified by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO),” the Pritzker administration said Wednesday.

Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Acting Director Delrice Adams said during a news conference the funds will be distributed effectively throughout the state.

“Building on their strengths and addressing their barriers we create new possibilities for communities that have been harmed by decades of violence, economic disinvestment and excessive incarceration,” Adams said.

The state has already distributed $35 million. An additional $45 million is set to be released with details available at R3.Illinois.gov.

“Investing in all communities and making sure that all service organizations large and small become equipped to create innovative programs and strategies that address the diverse needs of their communities and hopefully create a safer Illinois,” Adams said.

Local taxes can be stacked on top of state taxes, adding as much as three percent. In Springfield, Alderman Shawn Gregory said the city’s share of cannabis taxes, which is nearly $500,000, are going to homeowners and for business assistance on the east side.

“It’s going to provide major dividends, even well after I’m gone … It’s still going to be here for our community and I’m proud of that,” Gregory told WMAY last week.

In Evanston, the city council earlier this year announced it would be paying out money to Black residents who were affected by discriminatory housing practices.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s cannabis director, former state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, has taken a new role with a national cannabis reform advocacy group.

“I’m pleased to be joining the team at [Marijuana Policy Project], where I will continue my years-long effort to develop and support cannabis legalization legislation that centers on equity and repairing the harms of the past,” Hutchinson said in a statement Wednesday. “We are incredibly proud of the hard work and lessons learned in Illinois, standing up programs to invest in equity entrepreneurs, reinvesting in communities, and clearing hundreds of thousands of arrests and criminal records.

Pritzker said Hutchinson has been a go-to adviser on cannabis policy and will be missed.

Staff Reporter

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.