Marijuana Tax Money In Colorado Pays For College Tuition, Community Projects
With tax dollars for marijuana sales pouring into the state, Colorado governments are trying to spend the money in ways that have a direct benefit for the state’s residents.
Both the state and local governments have come up with a variety of projects to share the marijuana wealth. And it’s substantial: the state reported collecting almost $200 million in 2016 from taxes on medical and recreational marijuana sales.
Much of it has to do with the fact that Colorado was first through the door, leading the way in the U.S. for creating a regulated, legalized adult-use marijuana system. They’ve reaped the benefits not only from local residents, but others who have traveled to the Rocky Mountain State to take advantage of legal marijuana.
In Pueblo County, south of Colorado Springs, officials have decided use the county’s cannabis dollars to offer scholarships to local students.
Every graduating high school student in the county is eligible for the scholarship, which can be used to pay for expenses at a local college. It’s apparently the first such program ever in the history of the United States. Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace told CBS it’s an amazing turn of events in the history of the county, state and country.
“A couple years ago, these are dollars that would have been going to the black market, drug cartels,” he said. “Now money that’s used to fund drug cartels is now being used to fund college scholarships.”
Marijuana Tax Money: Little Town, Lots of Dollars
In Edgewater, a small exurb of Denver with a population of just 5,300, the city is bringing in about $1.3 million annually in marijuana tax revenue.
That’s from just six marijuana dispensaries, which apparently draw buyers from other local cities that decided not to allow marijuana sales (the state law leaves that decision to local governments).
City leaders have decided to spend the money on building a new library, a new city hall and paving 12 miles of roads.
That mirrors what the state itself is doing: pumping the money back into civic projects and education.
Where The State Spends Pot Tax Dollars
According to the appropriations approved by the state Legislature, the state of Colorado is spending marijuana tax dollars on a wide variety of projects.
About $40 million of marijuana tax revenue goes to support the Building Excellent Schools Today fund. The money pays to repair or replace deteriorating school buildings across the state.
Another $8.4 million went to the Department of Education for programs that seek to reduce the number of high school dropouts and also stop bullying within schools. Marijuana tax money also supports the department’s Early Literacy Competitive Grant program.
Marijuana sales also benefit the Department of Public Health and the Environment, which uses the money for a Marijuana Education Campaign, among other programs.
Clearly, both the state and local governments have benefited from the huge influx of cash from the marijuana industry. As other states see the results of marijuana legalization, look for them to push for legalization as well. It’s already become a topic of conversation in cash-strapped Illinois.