Growing up in Galesburg, we have seen our population decline, with a 79% decrease in manufacturing jobs, the shutdown of the Sandburg Mall and the closing of businesses along Main Street. For many who lost their jobs in the 1980s and 1990s in Galesburg, work was only found supporting mass incarceration at the Hill Correctional Center. But thanks in part to a fellow central Illinoisan, House Deputy Speaker Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, we now have hope of new economic prosperity with the new marijuana legislation that was passed this month.

As a supporter of recreational marijuana legalization, I am not alone in feeling relief that people no longer have to fear being taken away from their job, homes or their family if discovered by the police while in possession of marijuana. But luckily for us, this bill does much more than take away the criminalization of a naturally growing plant. Illinois is changing the game: Instead of pouring money into arrests and incarceration, which do not work to reduce crime, this legislation directs tax revenue to programs and resources that truly help individuals and the community.

People who are currently in prison for possessing cannabis may be able to ask the governor for a pardon. Given that in 2018 there were 262 people sent to prison for cannabis, this will hopefully bring hundreds of people home to their families. For the over 800,000 people who have been prevented from applying for a student loan or denied housing or work because of a marijuana conviction, they are now eligible to clear their record. For anyone who has stared at a job application, wishing there was more room to explain a conviction and knowing it was futile, the state of Illinois has just created a new class of workers who no longer have to fear background checks.

Illinois has been a victim of big business for a long time. In central Illinois, corporations took over our farms and closed down our factories. But this bill is designed to prevent a marijuana monopoly or corporate money grab. Instead, it contains incentives for “social equity applicants” — people who’ve been impacted by a marijuana arrest, can access the $30 million fund to help offset the cost of starting a business.

We’re all going to benefit from the additional revenue created by legalization of marijuana. The legislation calls for 20% of the revenue to be spent on mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment and education. Considering that it is estimated that the legalization of marijuana will bring in about $525 million in tax revenue a year, that will make a huge difference. For central Illinois, it also means jobs — around 24,000 jobs across the state will be created.

And it doesn’t end with treatment 0.25% of the tax revenue from marijuana sales will benefit communities hit hardest by drug enforcement. The money will be used to fund economic development and violence prevention in impacted communities. Finally, instead of pouring money into a system of criminalization that we know doesn’t work, Illinois is being smart on the issue.

I’m proud to be from central Illinois today, and I’m prouder that it was Peoria Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth that handled these tough negotiations and made this legislation what it is.

Dan Haas is a floor installer. He lives in Galesburg.