The governor of Colorado is angling to get a portion of the state’s marijuana tax revenue to go toward homelessness initiatives.
Amendment 64 states that the first $40-million in tax revenue from legal cannabis sales every year must go toward public school construction, after which 85 percent is infused into the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund. Initiatives that benefit from that fund include those in health care, education, law enforcement and substance abuse programs – the argument being that the money earned from cannabis should go toward addressing the impacts of legalization.
Governor John Hickenlooper, Jr. is making the case that housing and homeless services be added to that list, arguing that it’s a social issue that’s been exacerbated by legalization.
In 2015, Colorado generated more than $13-million in total revenue from taxing the cannabis industry. Since the pie is likely to be bigger in 2016, increased spending is a possibility.
In his 2017-18 budget request, Hickenlooper asked state lawmakers to allocate roughly $12-million of annual cannabis tax revenue to building new housing units for homeless residents. The governor also requested $4-million be allocated annually to house people with behavioral health needs.
While a handful of local governments like those in Aurora and Pueblo already use marijuana tax revenue to address homelessness, the state legislature would need to expand the accepted uses of marijuana tax revenue in order to follow suit.
In July, a proposal to fund homelessness initiatives in Los Angeles with a 10 percent tax on gross receipts of marijuana businesses was pulled by county supervisors. Officials claimed there was pushback from some homeless services and drug treatment providers who didn’t think the county should be seen promoting cannabis legalization.
Banner image: Governor John Hickenlooper/wikipedia.org