“Analysis of Social Equity Program on Economic Development of East Garfield Park” – Dureti Godana
Author: Dureti Godana
Department: Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement, UIC
Faculty: Dr. Joseph Hoereth
The legalization of marijuana has initiated new business and high revenue. This is in contrast to its history as a Schedule I drug, meaning it was classified as the same degree of heroin and cocaine. This classification ultimately initiated the War on Marijuana which meant stricter enforcement of marijuana laws as a demonstration of racial bias. Between 2001 and 2010 a black person was four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person despite equal rates of use (Planning et al., 2020). The aim of this study is to examine the history of past marijuana laws and the unequal demonstration that lead to disparities in justice. This is in relation to the Social Equity Program, a clause within the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, whose goal is to establish an equitable cannabis industry. This program targets communities that were most adversely affected by the enforcement of drug related laws by the state. This program is in place to provide reparations to people convicted and their family members. This study seeks to analyze the limitations of the Social Equity Program in relation to the needs of those in East Garfield Park, as well as provide policy recommendations for reduction of unemployment and poverty within East Garfield Park. Findings illustrate that this program addresses the majority of those victimized by inequitable enforcement of cannabis laws, however it does not extend to the ripple effects that have hindered the growth of East Garfield Park. Further study should include community involvement through community based participatory research so that all direct and non- direct repercussions can be addressed.
Keywords: Equity, Social Equity Program, Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, East Garfield Park