Marijuana tax revenues fund over $ 2 million in scholarships for Colorado college students

One county in Colorado receives over $ 2 million in grants thanks to marijuana tax revenue.

According to The Pueblo Chieftain, Pueblo County announced the scholarships before the coming fall semester.

It will be awarded $ 1 million to the Pueblo Community College, $ 616,000 to the Colorado State University Pueblo Foundation, $ 385,000 to the CSU Pueblo Athletics for student athletes, and $ 26,000 to the Pueblo African American Concern Organization.

Garrison Ortiz, chairman of the board of county commissioners, told the newspaper that he believes the competitive process “inspires some innovation and creativity when it comes to how those dollars are awarded”.

Colorado became the first state in the country to legalize marijuana in 2012. Since then, 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the drug for recreational use. So far this year, four states – Connecticut, New Mexico, New York, and Virginia – have passed laws decriminalizing the drug for adult use.

Medical marijuana use is also legal in 37 states. There are about a dozen states that do not allow the use of marijuana in any form.

Colorado reported $ 2.1 billion in marijuana sales last year, the highest ever. So far this year, the state has made $ 962 million in marijuana sales. The state has seen $ 10 billion in marijuana sales since the drug was legalized nearly a decade ago.

Marijuana dispensaries collect 2.9 percent of state sales tax. The state may also impose a 15 percent dedicated cannabis retail sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale retail sales or transfers of marijuana.

Medical marijuana is exempt from 15 percent sales tax and 15 percent consumption tax.

One county in Colorado receives over $ 2 million in grants thanks to marijuana tax revenue. Above, a member of the International Church of Cannabis holds up a jar filled with marijuana during the Church’s 4/20 celebration on April 20, 2018 in Denver, Colorado.
Jason Connolly / AFP via Getty Images

The bulk of the revenue, 71 percent, goes to the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund. The fund must be spent in the year following its collection and must be used for health care, health education, substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, and law enforcement.

About 15 percent of marijuana revenues go to a General Fund and 12.5 percent to the State Public School Fund.

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, but Democrats in Congress tabled several bills this year to decriminalize it.

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled his much-anticipated bill. The legislation would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, where it currently has the same classification (Scheme 1), but still allows states to maintain the ban.

“It’s not just an idea whose time has come. It’s long overdue,” said Schumer of the legalization.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently criticized the federal government’s “conflicting” marijuana laws, saying the ban may no longer be necessary.

Newsweek reached out to the Pueblo County’s Board of Commissioners for additional comments, but received no response prior to publication.