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On May 31st, 2019, Illinois became the 11th State to legalize cannabis. HB1438, was praised to be one of the most "Equity-Centric Policies" in the nation and the first to incorporate reparations for the War on Drugs. Sadly, there has been little progress in advancing economic equity in the cannabis industry, and reparations for the War on Drugs have been abandoned altogether.

The Big Payback is a campaign rooted in our elected officials' commitment to uplift those harmed by the war on drugs by actualizing reparations. One core component of reparations is satisfaction. We say with complete confidence that the survivors of the war on drugs are not satisfied with the results of HB 1438.  We demand that cannabis tax revenue in IL go directly to these survivors in the form of direct cash payments, and we demand the public trust that these individuals know best how to use the additional income.

Through the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws, The U.S. government has consistently demonstrated its commitment to uphold the legacy of slavery.The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, except as a punishment for crime.

This loophole has led to decades of policies that have targeted the Black population, keeping them enslaved through the penal system. Although the U.S. dismantled Jim Crow Laws through the Civil Rights Act, forced prison labor remains as prevalent as ever.

The Nixon Administration further enhanced the enslavement of Black communities through the introduction of "The War on Drugs." This government-led initiative birthed an industry of private prisons, which would later become part of the Prison Industrial Complex.

From the introduction of the War on Drugs in 1979 to the height of the crack epidemic in the 1980s and until 2009, the private prison industry grew by 1,600%. This growth is a direct result of the War on Drugs and the continued use of Black people as capital.

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Today, we see ourselves at a crossroads in this country. Legalized marijuana continues to generate billions of tax dollars across the country. In 2020, the State of Illinois reported $582 million in revenue.
Cannabis is the new booming industry many are desperate to join.

As this country begins building a new billion-dollar sector, communities of color are still dealing with the repercussions of mass incarceration. Black people have been targeted and criminalized for the very ‘crimes’ that make individuals millionaires today. Through the passing of HB 1438, we saw the promise of equity written into law.


We saw the acknowledgment of the intentionally detrimental effects of the War on Drugs on communities of color. We saw a pledge to ensure diversity within ownership and healing within communities. The State of Illinois has failed to uphold its commitments. To this day, we have yet to see a Black-owned dispensary in Illinois and equitable distribution of R3 funds to the people and communities most affected.

Equity and Transformation believes in the call for reparations and its necessity to build equity and opportunity Black people historically were denied. We have an opportunity to fulfill the need for reparations for the War on Drugs through R3 funds. We hope you will join us in this call through The Big Payback. This comprehensive campaign’s ultimate goal is to create a replicable reparations program that places R3 dollars directly into the hands of Black Americans affected by the War on Drugs.

The Big Payback will consist of political education for the public regarding the devastating effects of the War on Drugs on communities of color. Community members most affected will be invited to provide input in developing alternative solutions most relevant to the communities they reside in. These activities will culminate into a direct call for immediate reparations and long-term policy that will help support the distribution of R3 funds to individuals as a form of reparations.

Acknowledgement of the destruction that was caused by the War on Drugs;

Restoring dignity and hope for a better future to survivors of the War on Drugs 

Compensating survivors of the War on Drugs with cash payments as well as assets for their lost time and opportunities that resulted from incarceration; 

A Guarantee of Non-Repetition by reforming and removing laws or political structures that incarcerate people for recreationally using legal drugs.

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