Any way you look at it, the cannabis industry has been a boon to Colorado. It’s created nearly 20,000 jobs, and cannabis tourism benefits any number of businesses – hotels, restaurants, and gas stations are just a few of the establishments making money from all those out of state visitors. But it’s the cannabis taxes that have had the most substantial impact on the state. In 2016, Colorado’s tax revenue from the cannabis industry was almost $200 million, with a large portion going to education.
This month, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative and the Pueblo County Scholarship Fund awarded 210 Pueblo County high school graduates $2,000 each in cannabis funded scholarships. That’s a total of – wait for it – $420,000. County Commissioner Sal Pace said the number was purely a coincidence, and is not a reference to 420.
All graduating Pueblo high school students are eligible for the scholarship, but only if they attend either Pueblo Community College or Colorado State University Pueblo. It’s thought to be the first academic scholarship in the world funded by cannabis tax.
Almost $50 million of last year’s cannabis tax revenue went to public education. $8.4 million went to the Department of Education to fund a variety of initiatives, and the first $40 million of each year’s cannabis taxes goes to the BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) fund, which was created to back construction projects to renovate or replace aging public schools.
While some cannabis consumers may balk at the steep taxes imposed on recreational sales, there’s no doubt that the tax revenue is helping the Colorado’s young people, and that’s a good thing.