Colorado Teachers: Where’s The Weed Money?

As teachers march and protest around the country for higher salaries, Colorado teachers want to know where the revenue from marijuana sales is going.

In 2012, Colorado residents voted to allow the legal sale of marijuana to adults. One of the selling points of the measure was the promise that millions of dollars would go towards funding public education.

However, the requirement generates amounts to less than 2% of the state’s multi-billion-dollar education budget, and other marijuana taxes don’t make up the shortfall between what schools need and the state money they get.

This leaves Colorado teachers and residents wondering just where all the weed money is going?

About The Marijuana Tax

Taxes vary around the country and Marijuana tax is no different. In Colorado,  a 15% excise tax  is charged up front. This is when marijuana is sold wholesale to either a retail store or a business that manufactures Marijuana products.

At the retail level, customers then pay a 15% sales tax when purchasing marijuana or marijuana products for recreational use. Individuals who are buying for medical use pay the state’s 2.9% sales tax in addition to any local sales tax that may apply.

Show Me The Money?

Under the amendment which legalized the sale of marijuana, the first $40 million in taxes on wholesale marijuana (growers to retailers) go into a fund for school construction or maintenance.

After that, dividing up the revenue for sales tax gets a little confusing. 10% goes directly to local governments. $30 million is contributed to a state public school fund which is controlled by the department of education.

After that, roughly 72% goes into a fund for various substance abuse and prevention programs. These include treatment, healthcare or health-related education. The remaining funds, about 15%, go into a general fund.

That sounds like a lot of money, and indeed it is. In 2017, legal marijuana sales reported at $1.5 billion. The tax share? About $247 million. However, that number is nowhere close to the $822 million that Colorado under-funds its schools by each year.

According to The Denver Post:

The 2017 state budget provided $5.6 billion for K-12 education that went to the education department, the Charter School Institute and the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind.

Marijuana tax revenue provided $90.3 million of that total, or about 1.6%

What To Do?

Colorado public schools are woefully underfunded. And while new taxes have been floated, nothing has been decided as of yet. The cost of living in Denver is on the rise, prompting Colorado teachers to wonder where their piece of the marijuana pie has gone.

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