FILE - Cannabis Marijuana, Illinois, cannabis

In this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, photo, cannabis flowers are cured for up to three-weeks at Revolution Global's cannabis cultivation center in Delavan, Ill.

(The Center Square) – The House Public Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force recently met with recipients of Restore, Reinvest and Renew program grants, funded by taxes on cannabis products, to discuss what still needs to be done to address violence in the state.

The Restore Reinvest and Renew program provides grant money to groups to help prevent violence.

The Restore Reinvest and Renew program was signed into law back in 2019 and is designed to help communities with issues of gun violence, child poverty, unemployment and imprisonment by providing funding from 25% of the state's taxes on recreational cannabis sales.

Karl Brinson, president of the Westside chapter of the NAACP and recipient of one of the grants, said that he is focused on helping fix his community.

"We are committed to changing this behavior and this attitude and this mindset around," Brinson said. "There is a lot of great things that go on in our communities and there is a lot of people that want to help solve these issues."

State Rep. Mary Flowers said that there is still much more that needs to be done in these communities and asked the recipients what else they needed from the state.

"What help do you still need from the state?" Flowers said. "Because when this funding runs out you're not putting these people into junior colleges, you're not giving them the places where they can go to get jobs," Flowers said.

In December, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that another round of funding was coming for the Restore Reinvest and Renew program. The $45 million announced will be distributed to the 80 community groups who also received money in the first round of funding.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, said that it is time to start seeing some results.

"There is going to have to be some deliverables," Ford said. "We are going to have to vote again to appropriate funds and we need to be able to prove that the funds that are being appropriated to these groups, taxpayers can be satisfied with."

Staff Reporter

Andrew Hensel has years of experience as a reporter and pre-game host for the Joliet Slammers, and as a producer for the Windy City Bulls. A graduate of Iowa Wesleyan University and Illinois Media School, Andrew lives in the south suburbs of Chicago.