Not everyone is open to the legalization of marijuana use, recreational or otherwise. While US states have varying degrees of legality (from complete bans to legal medical use to all legal uses), cannabis use and possession is still prohibited by federal law under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
Conversations about whether marijuana use should be legal nationwide are complicated. Why are cannabinoid prescriptions approved by the FDA? Do we know enough about the effects of cannabis to call it safe? What about our kids? What about a history of discrimination? What about people for whom no other treatment works? What about impaired driving?
A number of American states have decided to sort out the big questions through experience. And while opening the door to legal cannabis use, they’ve discovered ways to use it to benefit their communities. Tax revenue from cannabis use diverts dollars from the dealer next door into a larger pot (pun intended), into which millions of people can dip.
Several cities and towns in Colorado, for example, have found creative ways to use marijuana sales tax dollars for good.
Aurora, Colorado Uses Marijuana Taxes To Help the Homeless
Aurora, Colorado rolled out no more than 24 recreational cannabis retail stores since legalization. But a special marijuana sales tax from just those two dozen stores generated over $27 million from 2014 to 2018. The majority of those tax dollars were set aside to provide holistic resources for people without stable housing.
As of 2018, $7.3 million had already been spent to create services for the homeless, new affordable housing, vehicles for non-profit groups, and a day resource center at Anschutz Medical Campus. (Denver Post)
More recently, the Aurora Central Recreation Center opened its doors at the beginning of summer 2019. It’s the city’s first new recreational center in almost four decades, and it provides a space for community members to access a variety of services. Cooking classes, swimming lessons, meeting room spaces, and fitness equipment are now all available to Aurora residents, thanks to a financial boost from recreational marijuana.