Colorado marijuana dollars helping rural schools

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$30 million in marijuana sales tax was sent to schools last year in Colorado

Colorado is experiencing a windfall thanks to marijuana. The state saw more than $1 billion in sales between January and August of this year, resulting in around $200 million in taxes for various governments. Last year, it saw $1.5 billion in sales and the tax revenue helped to fund a number of programs. One of the most important channels for the funds was the state’s school system.

Rural schools received $30 million from the amount collected in marijuana sales tax. When the legislation to legalize marijuana was initially drafted, lawmakers planned to divide the money among the 147 rural school districts in the state, with the smaller ones receiving 45% and the larger ones, 55%. Since then, the laws have changed somewhat and taxes from retail marijuana sales were designated directly to school classrooms.

Last year, the five smallest districts received $18,052.91. It may not seem like much, but the superintendent for Campo RE-6 in southeast Colorado, Nikki Johnson, saw things differently. She told The Denver Post, “I’m sure $18,052.91 seems like a minuscule amount compared to what larger districts received last year … but we are thankful for every dollar we receive.”

At the higher end of the spectrum, some districts, such as Montrose, received as much as $1 million. The money is proving to be extremely useful, giving Montrose the ability to create a new program among its schools to compete for funds. This helps improve the level of education, as the schools work to outdo each other with their curriculums in order to snag a larger portion of the available money.

Money that has been allocated to the districts, but which still hasn’t been earmarked for particular programs, has found a home, as well. Instead of just sitting idly, the funds are helping to improve safety. They are building fencing, securing entryways, training staff and providing a better, more stable environment for students.