Reports of pretty significant marijuana sales in Colorado – both medical and recreational – mean additional tax revenue for state and city jurisdictions. The result is a new stream of revenue that jurisdictions are collecting and using in their operating budgets. While this additional revenue may not close the gap on budget shortfalls, it can help cities provide additional services that may not have otherwise been provided. With nearly one billion dollars in marijuana sales in 2015, the State of Colorado collected $135 million in tax revenue and licensing fees. And sales in 2016 are shaping up to surpass 2015. Some revenue collected has been allocated for projects that lead to community improvement like road repairs and construction. And one Colorado city has taken it a step further by using their marijuana sales tax revenue to benefit poverty-stricken people and the homeless community. Marijuana sales tax revenue at work has some promising benefits.
Just a few short months ago, the Aurora City Council allocated $220,000 from marijuana sales tax revenue to a nonprofit called Colfax Community Network. While this sum of money isn’t an endless pot of gold, it is enough to help change lives of people who need it the most.
The Colfax Community Network (CCN) provides services that are often desperately needed along the Colfax Avenue corridor. The people that make up this community are often transient and need help connecting with resources for housing, education, parenting classes and career development. The network works to create a sense of community keeping people from the struggle of isolation that can go along with some pretty tough times in an individual’s life. Colfax Community Network believes that by focusing on the youth in this struggling and ignored community that they can help break the generational cycle of poverty. By supporting the Colfax Community Network, the City of Aurora has pledged itself to building a stronger community now and into the future.
Aurora has also committed to using $3 million of marijuana sales tax generated funds over the next few years to provide local services to the homeless population. This city is trying to help from the root of the problem and is investing in programs to help homeless people get back on their feet rather than spending more money enforcing laws that make life as a homeless person even more difficult than it already is.
It is great to see marijuana sales tax revenue at work and the many wonderful things that legalization of marijuana has done for the state of Colorado. Building stronger communities, creating opportunities for youth and helping those that need some support are wonderful things happening thanks to legalization. And now, our amazing home state is even better. Healthier people, happier people and tax revenue that has the potential to reach all walks of life are some great outcomes to the marijuana debate.