5/31/17

Colorado To Spend Marijuana Tax Money To Fight Addiction And Homelessness

The state of Colorado collected more than $100 million in taxes on retail recreational marijuana sales last last year. So what’s it going to do with all that extra cash? The governor’s new budget allocates that money for supportive housing, health screening in public schools, addiction treatment, and on regulating the cannabis industry.

One budget item puts aside $5.9 million in tax funds for law enforcement grants to fight gray and black market marijuana sales. The state wants to fight the illegal market and stop people who get their weed from medical dispensaries from re-selling it to other people. It doesn’t collect taxes on any of those sales, after all.

The largest allocation from the Marijuana Cash Fund, as it’s called, is $15.3 million for supportive housing and other services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, with the goal of keeping them out of prisons and hospitals. Another program spends $7.1 million on helping keep people in mental health crisis out of jails and finding appropriate services for them.

An existing program that puts health care professionals in public and charter schools will receive another $9.7 million in grant funds. Their responsibilities will include “education, universal screening, referral, and care coordination for students with substance abuse and other behavioral health needs.”

The state is also funding a $500,000 two-year pilot program to train physician assistants and nurse practitioners in treating and prescribing medication for people with opioid addictions.

All of these programs depend on the Department of Justice not stepping up enforcement in the six states that have legal recreational marijuana use and state-regulated retail sales. The Trump administration is likely to do so, and even the medical marijuana industry is nervous about what’s possible.

(via Vice News)

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