Heated debates have swept the nation for over 50 years regarding the legalization of marijuana. Then, in 2012, the game officially changed, as Colorado legalized marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use.
The legalization of marijuana ushered in a whole new world of economic benefits in Colorado. With thousands of new jobs created, as well as $135 million in tax revenues within the first year, it is no wonder that the majority of people who live in Colorado are content with the new legislation. The main promise for voters in legalizing marijuana was the hope that increased tax revenues would aid the state in various endeavors. Of course, now the taxpayers can clearly see the increased revenues, and many are left wondering what the state will do with additional revenue.
One city, Aurora, which is actually the third largest city in the state, has decided to use over one-third of the money earned through the new “weed tax” to provide financial support to non-profit charities for the homeless.
During the next three years, there will be $3 million that will be granted to various groups across the city that work to provide the food and shelter to those that have none. While the funds are being dispersed over the course of a three-year period, $1.5 million dollars has been allocated to the groups and will be given before the end of the fiscal year, or June 2017.
Many people who were against the legislation were worried that legalizing marijuana could possibly make things worse in the state. It seems that instead of the legislation being a bad thing for the state, that it actually has made things better. With the tax funds being used to provide the less fortunate with their basic needs, it could even be stated that the legislation has proven to be truly beneficial. City Councilman Bob Roth discussed the new legislation and said,
‘We wanted to be able to show citizens that we are having a positive impact on the community and point to specific projects or initiatives to where that money is going to.’
In Aurora, there are over 1000 homeless people that currently live on the streets. By using state funds to help these people, we can see that this is a beautiful example of small local governments assisting those who need it most.
At this point in time, the funds have not been promised to specific groups, as the city is still putting a list together of all the project that they wish to allocate the funds to. One group, known as the Colfax Community Network have been granted $220,000 to back the costs of operation so that the group can continue helping those in need, and of course, additional funds are likely to be sent to them later within the next two years.
On top of funding agencies that provide shelter and food, money has also been granted to Comitis Crisis Center and Aurora Mental health, so that the organizations will be able to purchase transportation as well as two additional care workers. Due to this funding, individuals who would not be able to otherwise make it to the walk-in centers will now have a way.
Additionally, $45,000 is going to be given to an Aurora Housing Association to pay for the salary of a landlord coordinator so that they can work full-time. Why is this particular job of necessity? Well, oftentimes, landlords reject applications from those who are homeless. With this new funding, there is a much better chance that the cycle of homelessness will decrease since homeless citizens will be provided the ability to get back on their own two feet.
Other pledges have been made by the city to place workers in day centers throughout the city and to also build more walk-in centers for those in need. These new buildings will have facilities for the homeless to wash their clothing, receive mental health support, and also shower.
While the controversy surrounding the legalization of marijuana is sure to continue into the future, it is important to remember the positive impact that it is playing in Colorado. People oftentimes look down on the homeless and associate their existence with drug use. In this unique case, funds that have come into being due to drug purchases statewide, are now being used to help those people that were once shunned. Not only is this an ironic twist, it is also a case that goes to show exactly how deserving of love and respect that the less fortunate are. Furthermore, it begs the question of what could be possible if the legalization spread to other states.