As the legalization of marijuana is still in its infancy, advocates on both sides of the issue are waiting to see the impact it will have on communities. While not enough time has passed to come to any definitive conclusions one way or another, Colorado has started to see one of the major benefits of legalization: tax money. Since legalization began in early 2014, millions of dollars have reportedly been raised through the taxation of legal weed, a large portion of which is being used to help improve some of the state’s poorest schools.
How is this money directly affecting schools? As a part of the state’s plan for legalization, Colorado gets to allocate $40 million in marijuana tax money into the state’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program each year. These funds go to improving the state’s existing schools or building new schools when one is too run down to be properly repaired. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, BEST is expected to provide approximately $300 million for school funding, a significant portion of which will come from the state’s marijuana excise tax.
According to the Denver Post, the small Colorado town of Deer Park is about to see this new funding in a very personal way, as their deteriorating K-12 school is finally getting replaced. Thanks to the money that comes from BEST, their new school will be able to have several features they never had before, such as wheelchair ramps and a swimming pool.
The legalization of weed is still a divisive issue in America, but the practical economic boost may be a turning point in convincing many skeptics. Marijuana, of course, cannot solve every problem our society faces, but legalization can strengthen the economy and drastically reduce our country’s rampant incarceration rate. And for at least one Colorado town, it’s what’s finally getting them the school of their dreams.