What do the state Supreme Court and Roodhouse have in common? Both lie in areas that have gotten picked on during the war on drugs, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and so residents, or past residents, who’ve been arrested, convicted or incarcerated for pot offenses will be eligible for special consideration when applying for scarce state permits to grow or sell pot, which can cost well into six figures by the time application fees are paid and proof of liquid assets is provided. Relatives of residents of adversely impacted areas who’ve gotten busted in the past, also, will be eligible for preferential treatment including grants, low-interest loans and waivers on state fees. The state included poverty rates as well as arrest and conviction rates for pot offenses in deciding which census tracts have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war. Pretty much all of Jerome has been tagged as having gotten screwed, as has the state fairgrounds and the Capitol. Downtown, meanwhile, is outside the zone, an island amid a sea of census tracts where residents seeking permits will get breaks, with successful contestants for 75 dispensary licenses being allowed to set up shop anywhere in the state where local governments haven’t banned the pot trade. DCEO could not immediately explain precisely how numbers were crunched in drawing the map. Lisa Clemmons-Stott, executive director of Downtown Springfield Inc., has no explanation. “When I first looked at the map, I was surprised at how downtown was carved out because all of the neighborhood is still considered low income for other government programs,” she wrote via email. Mike Lopez, president of the Jerome village board, also professes himself mystified – the mostly white village, he points out, has an average household income in excess of $45,000, and the average home value jumped from $80,500 in 2000 to $105,000 in 2016. “I don’t know where it’s coming from,” Lopez said. Marijuana Business Daily has pegged the worth of the state’s pot market at as much as $2.5 billion.

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