Arizona state officials recently announced that Arizona has started awarding the first round of justice reinvestment grants to nearly 20 nonprofits across the state. The state’s cannabis law, Proposition 207, created the grant program to support efforts such as substance-use prevention and treatment, public and behavioral health, mentorship programs and workforce development in economically disenfranchised regions.
Using funds drawn from cannabis taxes, the program would also support efforts to address the root causes of crime, reduce Arizona’s prison population, expunge certain cannabis-related criminal records and restore civil rights.
As per Proposition 207, the program receives 35% of Arizona’s Justice Reinvestment Fund, which is funded by 10% of Arizona’s cannabis sales tax revenue. An additional 35% of the Justice Reinvestment Fund is earmarked for county public health departments while the remaining 30% goes to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to address critical public health issues that affect Arizona.
Recipients of the first round of grants include Northland Family Health Center, Hushabye Nursery, Axiom Community of Recovery, Stuck Community Acupuncture, Cihuapactli Collective, Phoenix Indian Center, Friendly House, Persevere, Arouet Foundation, Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates (JAG) and Constructive Circles of Peace.
The rest of the 18 grants went to the Arizona Democracy Resource Center, Our Sister Our Brother, Southern Arizona Legal Aid, the Bambi Fundjust Communities Arizona, Regional Center for Border Health Yuma, and Regional Center for Border Health Parker.
A press statement from ADHS noted that the office “identified priority communities’” in Arizona and held 18 listening sessions to highlight public interest in services that participants believed would benefit their communities. This includes improving neighborhood safety and developing community spaces such as community centers and parks, providing training on cultural awareness, culturally appropriate health services, youth development, substance education and prevention services, technology training for former inmates, and increasing access to affordable housing and healthy food.
According to ADHS, all the projects that received grants represent communities from across the state and focus on the key areas detailed during the community listening sessions.
ADHA noted that the Office of Health Equity would create a “robust evaluation process” to make sure that the program funds projects that bring a positive impact by serving the intended communities. Such a program evaluation process would assess if grant applicants meet the outlined goals and use collected data to continuously improve the program, ADHS said.
Arizona isn’t the only state that has earmarked a portion of its cannabis revenue for community reinvestment. California recently announced that applications for $48 million in cannabis tax-funded community reinvestment grants were open. New Jersey has also opened an application round for the state’s marijuana tax-funded social equity program.
The benefits that cannabis companies and ancillary companies such as Innovative Industrial Properties Inc. (NYSE: IIPR) bring through the taxes they pay in the different jurisdictions where they operate highlight some of the socioeconomic value of cannabis legalization.
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