We know we're rolling in it … but where exactly is it being spent?
Remember last year when Colorado raked in almost $1 billion in legal weed revenue?
Ha ha, us too. Good times.
But have you ever wondered where, exactly, all that money goes? We all know on a basic level that it's used for community improvement: Roads and schools and … such. Other than that, it's a bit cloudy.
After excise taxes are accounted for, the state made around $66 million in actual, usable revenue. Due to a cute little accounting error, officials almost had to give it back to taxpayers — but then the good, moral people of Colorado (who don't need to pay their dads back for semester two of sophomore year) voted to give it back to the state.
A report from ATTN lines out where all that cash money is going:
1. $40 million for school construction.
2. $2.5 million for marijuana education and prevention campaigns.
3. $2 million for bullying prevention school grants.
4. $2 million for drop-out prevention school grants.
5. $2 million for youth mentoring services.
6. $1 million for poison control centers.
7. $1 million for local government marijuana impact grants.
8. $500,000 for substance abuse screening, intervention, and referral.
9. $500,000 for substance abuse treatment.
10. $300,000 for Future Farmers of America and 4-H programs at the State Fair.
11. $200,000 for roadside impaired-driving enforcement training for peace officers.
Hmm, we don't exactly know what a "peace officer" is, so we'd be fine if they went ahead and returned at least that portion of the revenue to us … but either way, the list shows what's really important: Community improvement is a priority for Coloradans. We're willing to forgo a tax return (albeit a small one) for ourselves in the name of the greater good, and we don't mind using weed to do it.
Pueblo in particular is a town that excels at using legal weed money to improve the community. They're dropping $700K in legal weed revenue to fund scholarships for low-income Latino students, something that really, really matters in a place where Latinos make up 43 percent of the population. Although that money is separate from the state tax mentioned above, it'll go to high school graduating seniors who are pursuing continued education at local community colleges and state universities. The scholarship fund is projected to grow up to 5 percent by 2020 and can be matched with grants in a town where only 21 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree (according to the U.S. Census).
“We’re asked a lot what type of impact legalization has had on our community. It’s often hard to provide objective numbers. In this case, we have very hard numbers; and the result is staggering. One could say that cannabis is driving our economic recovery in Pueblo,” County Commissioner Sal Pace told local daily The Pueblo Chieftain.
That's exactly the kind of life-changing good weed money can bring. Current projections estimate 2016 will be as, if not more, profitable for the legal weed industry, so we're really looking forward to seeing what voters chose to improve next.
That said, if anyone wants to start a fund to get our office a new coffee machine, it would surely be just as philanthropic as anything at this point …