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Colorado’s marijuana tax revenue funds a slew of local educational and health programs in the state, and in one small town, it’s creating positive change in the community.
Lamar, in southeastern Colorado, has a population of just over 7,000 people, and the municipality has made the most of the marijuana sales tax revenue — they’re using it to fund a $100,000-per-year anti-bullying program.
The town’s Parkview Elementary now includes anti-bullying classes in addition to the traditional curriculum for its students. These classes educate the students on what bullying looks like, how bullies behave and how to intervene when they see it happening. They engage in role-playing to practice positive interactions.
Students from kindergarten through high school participate in these classes. Programs like this are especially valuable in small towns like Lamar, where the community is tight-knit and children and all residents see each other in all their various activities, well beyond the playground and schoolyards.
Since the program began, the number of bullying incidents have dropped by 23 percent, CBS News reported.
“I think it means the world,” Principal Aron Jones told CBS of the anti-bullying program. “If kids don’t feel safe, they’re not going to learn, they’re not going to achieve.”
Other schools have funded literacy initiatives, school health professionals and drop-out prevention programs with the tax revenue.
And though there are still funding and distribution issues, the revenue has taken care of longstanding infrastructure wish-lists in some school districts. It’s fixed leaky roofs, faulty electrical wiring and broken heating and cooling systems, as well as built new classrooms for growing districts with overcrowding problems.
And Lamar isn’t the only community getting creative with additional funds from recreational marijuana sales.
Where Marijuana Tax Money Goes Beyond Colorado’s Schools
Across the state, millions of dollars of marijuana tax revenue are also going toward improving Colorado’s mental health system. The money helps fund infrastructure and services in rural areas to provide access to mental health services and give those in crisis options for help, and in some cases, an alternative to time in jail. For example, the towns of Frisco and Montrose are using marijuana tax revenue to build new mental health facilities.
In Denver, the tax revenue is helping to fund more affordable housing options and combat homelessness, both of which are major issues in the area. The city has plans to build more than 6,000 affordable family homes during the next five years, an initiative that’s funded in part by retail marijuana sales tax revenue.
The tax revenue is also funding marijuana and hemp-related research. One example: The Denver Post reported that a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado received grant funding for research into a common question she hears from parents: Could CBD, the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, help my child’s autism?
In the meantime, Colorado’s marijuana tax revenue has been increasing every year — it exceeded $200 million in 2018 and 2019 — so there’s sure to be more funding for research and schools to come.