Yes you read that correctly; By 2017 an estimated 400 or more students will receive scholarships funded by cannabis sales.
Recently Pueblo County Colorado decided to pass a 5% excise tax on local growing operators in their booming legal marijuana industry. Voters in that county approved the new measure by 60 to 40. This will allocate some of its immense profits from Cannabis sales to college scholarship for students of Pueblo County. Many consider it a landmark vote as this is the first time cannabis tax money being used directly for scholarships.
Pueblo’s booming pot industry didn’t oppose the measure, which brings their tax rate from 15 percent to 20 percent, phased in over five years. Some say that it will put the recipients in an weird situation — they’ll be having their college education paid by a product they aren’t even supposed to have access to until they’re 21.
“It’ll be interesting to see how they balance that, telling kids to stay away from these products until they’re 21 but creating a reliance on the product paying for their schooling,” said Tyler Henson, president of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce.
Many of the scholarship backers insist the fund isn’t any different than many scholarships already being funded by alcohol companies. Not to mention the alcohol industry has a immensely high percentage of people who experience negative health effects, addiction, automobile accidents, and death directly related to their product. While the cannabis industry has no deaths ever recorded and many studied medicinal benefits of the plant itself.
“Adding a scholarship that comes from an industry we are fostering is a logical method to address several of our community issues,” including an unemployment rate that lags the statewide average, said Pueblo’s director of economic development, Chris Markuson.
Starting in 2017 the county expects to raise $3.5 million a year for the scholarship fund by 2020. Supporters estimate that 400 students will receive about $1,000 a year from the fund. The goal of the tax increase is to “make college affordable for everyone in our community,” Commissioner of Pueblo County, Sal Pace, said in a recent statement.
According to the measure each year at least 50 percent of cannabis tax revenue will be set aside as cash for scholarships. Reuters reported that the remaining tax revenue will go toward medical cannabis research, road and hiking trail upgrades, and other public improvement projects.