Commentary

Op Ed: Five of Colorado’s Most Convincing Pot Tax Spends

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Mary Jane's Medicinals CEO Dahila Mertens.
Courtesy of Grasslands
Mental Health Services
Millions of dollars from Colorado’s marijuana tax revenue are also helping fund our state’s mental health system, with special focus on reducing the reliance on the criminal justice system for handling mental health-related crises, as well as building new facilities in rural areas lacking adequate access to services.

For years, Colorado had relied on millions of dollars from tobacco lawsuit settlements to support numerous mental health programs in the state. Since that money is nearly dried up, revenue from legal marijuana sales has been a vital pipeline for funding mental health services in the criminal justice system for juvenile and adult offenders, as well as providing services for children under the Colorado Child Mental Health Treatment Act.

Affordable Housing
Cities like Denver are using cannabis taxes to boost efforts to create more affordable housing and reduce homelessness. City leaders recently passed a measure that will use revenues from a marijuana tax increase to help double the Affordable Housing Fund — from $15 million to $30 million — and build more than 6,000 affordable family homes over the next five years.

Cracking Down on Illegal Markets
Colorado sets aside nearly $6 million each year in marijuana revenues to combat the illegal cannabis market and reimburse law enforcement for their investigations into illicit operations. This is an important step in efforts to quash illicit markets. Illegal operators pose a risk to public safety and public health, and they undermine the lawful operations of the regulated cannabis market.

Beyond the above benefits, over the past five years, millions of dollars have been used to help bolster scientific research on cannabis and collect valuable data on our state’s populace through the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey and other health polls.

While some have scoffed at the amount of revenue generated by a legal cannabis market being a drop in the bucket compared with the state’s massive annual budget needs, it’s important to remember these tax dollars from cannabis are nevertheless having a real impact — especially because a majority of these tax dollars didn’t even exist five years ago.

Dahlia Mertens is the founder and CEO of Mary Jane’s Medicinals, a cannabis topicals company practicing natural, whole-plant infusion at its Telluride production facility since 2009.

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