Colorado Cannabis Taxes are Being Spent on Teen Prevention


Colorado cannabis is big business. So big in fact that sales in 2016 were over $1 billion. Colorado cannabis taxes recorded for the same year were in the tune of $200 million. According to Mason Tvert, director of the Marijuana Policy Project’s Denver-based location, this revenue “is just the tip of the iceberg” and that “the state received nearly $200 million in marijuana tax revenue, whereas a decade ago it was receiving zero.”

Colorado Cannabis Taxes Will Be Used to Prevent Teens from Smoking Weed

What is Colorado doing with all this extra cash? For starters, $9.2 million will be going into 42 school districts and charter schools to help prevent teen cannabis use. The money is being spent to hire social workers, counsellors, and state-certified school nurses who will use evidence-based plans to dissuade teens from smoking weed. The money is being used schools and districts in close vicinity to legal marijuana dispensaries.

And while teen use of pot is at its lowest in 22 years, the State Department of Education still contends that the legalization of marijuana increases the chances of underage use. Spending money on teen prevention is the Department of Education’s way of keeping cannabis out of the hands of kids and decreasing what they believe is a big problem. They reason that increasing the number of qualified school nurses and counsellors will make an impact in decreasing the likelihood teens will use recreational cannabis.

Until now, Colorado school nurses were in short supply. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) recommend one nurse for no more than 750 students, Colorado school nurses were accountable for some 6,000 students. Colorado cannabis taxes aim to change this, allowing for more attention to each student.

In Denver public schools, who received $871,636, health care workers will offer a range of educational information including substance abuse and suicide prevention programs in 22 high schools and middle schools. This is a welcomed relief for Colorado school officials who widely agree that there is a serious need for programs like this in Colorado.

Use of Colorado Cannabis Taxes Aims to Curb the “Cultural Acceptance” of Weed

Jon Widmier, director of student services in the Jefferson County School District, believes that there is undoubtedly “a growing need for this type of service in our schools, and we are trying to get ahead of it. The lines have definitely been blurred. There is more of a cultural acceptance of marijuana.”

With the money made from this cultural acceptance, Denver Public Schools are doing what they can to ensure what they see as the best measures to prevent underage use of cannabis, as well as increase the health and wellbeing of their teenaged students.

As Ellen Kelty, Denver Public School interim director of student equity and opportunity, put it, “anything we can do to eliminate depression and other things that cause substance abuse is a step forward.” She went on to add, “It’s an interesting life we’re in right now. We just want to make sure kid’s make smarter choices.”