12.28.2016
policy

Colorado Weed Tax May Soon House the Homeless

Cannabis is only here to give everyone a lift.

If Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s budget plan for fiscal year 2017-2018 goes through, the next time you light up legal weed in his home state, you might be helping to put a roof over a homeless person.

Hickenlooper’s spending package proposes grabbing $12.3 million from marijuana taxes and using those dollars to build 1,200 housing units reserved for individuals afflicted with “chronic and episodic” homelessness. Going forward, the Colorado governor’s proposal would fund construction of 300 more residential units every five years for people enduring “periodic” homelessness.

The rationale behind apportioning marijuana tax revenue to assist the homeless population is that drug dependence is often a factor leading to people living on the streets, and living on the streets is often a barrier to breaking free of drug dependence.

From Westword:

After Amendment 64 was passed by voters in 2012, many proponents of the measure shared their concerns about people with systemic drug-abuse problems with state officials, saying they hoped the government could help provide more public-health solutions instead of incarcerating such individuals, according to Andrew Freedman, director of marijuana coordination for the State of Colorado.
“Roughly 70 to 80 percent of all homeless people have some drug-abuse problem, and one of the best public-health solutions is to give them housing and get them out of the cycle of dependency,” Freedman says.

Marijuana contributed $135 million to state coffers in taxes and fees during 2015. Pot sales by all accounts, of course, rocketed during 2016, and tax benefits presumably will rise as well. The plan to divert a portion of the cannabis cash flow to housing the homeless has received some pushback from Colorado residents who prefer that the money goes to schools and education.

But if you haven’t learned that homeless people who’ve been given a lift back into the mainstream are a cost-effective benefit to society, what kind of education are you paying for?

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