In case there remained any doubt that a legalized cannabis industry can revitalize a state’s economy, Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a budget bill to allocate how $105 million from the state’s Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.
Vice’s Keegan Hamilton reports that the $105 million from marijuana taxes from the 2016-17 fiscal year will go primarily toward schools, public health as well as oversight of the industry, still illegal under federal law.
Marijuana sales increased 30 percent in the first few months of 2017 in Colorado compared to early 2016, with stores selling a $235 million worth of cannabis.
Colorado’s new budget devotes $15.3 million in weed tax revenue to pay for “permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing assistance for individuals with behavioral health needs, and for individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness,” Hamilton reports. Hickenlooper’s office said the money will help “reduce incarceration, hospitalization, and homelessness for many of Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens.” Another $7.1 million will go toward “ending the use of jails for holding people who are experiencing a mental health crisis” by increasing access to “more appropriate services outside the criminal justice system.”
In addition to moneys for other education programs, the state’s Department of Education will receive $9.7 million in marijuana taxes to create a grant program that will bring health care workers to high schools to provide “education, universal screening, referral, and care coordination for students with substance abuse and other behavioral health needs.”
The state’s budget also sets aside $500K for 2018 and 2019 to combat the opioid epidemic in two hard-hit Colorado counties. The money will allow nurses and physicians assistants to work on curbing opioid addiction throughout the state.