Colorado’s experiment in legalizing recreational marijuana has been very successful in raising the state’s revenues. Last year they used some of their millions towards education scholarships amongst other things. This year, with more than $105 million in the state’s Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, Colorado will be spending that money on education, public health and their own industry’s oversight.
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.” 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.”
The state’s Department of Education will also receive an additional $9.7 million in marijuana taxes to create a grant program that will pay for 150 health care workers to visit high schools and provide “education, universal screening, referral, and care coordination for students with substance abuse and other behavioral health needs.”
And according to the Denver ABC affiliate, money is being set aside for pilot programs that try to alleviate the opioid epidemic that has hit Colorado the same as it has hit the rest of the country.
The program will train nurse practitioners and physician assistants in Pueblo and Routt counties on how to prescribe medication and treatments for people in the midst of opioid addiction.
It will also send support to local agencies in both counties to provide behavioral health therapy, along with the medical treatment, to opioid addicts in the county.
This is a treatment program, not a punishment program. So while our new administration is interested in punishing people for marijuana, Colorado has moved well beyond into using marjiuana to help treat actual problems of drug addiction.