The Colorado Department of Human Services announced last week that $21 million in marijuana tax revenue will be spent in ten communities across Colorado to that keeps individuals out of jail, concentrating instead on getting professional help for people experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues.
The program is expected to last three to five years and will take place in the following counties: Alamosa, Broomfield, Denver, El Paso, Evans, Grand Junction, Larimer, and Pitkin. Each county will receive up to $300,000 that will allow them to launch new programs, partner with law enforcement with therapists, and combat opioid addiction.
The aim is to keep citizens out of jail, and instead help them create stable, fulfilling lives. This is all being done because of legal weed. The money spent in various counties will be used to hire previous drug addicts to provide counsel to people looking to get clean, place therapists in police patrol cars, and offer free housing for addicts and sex workers.
According to a statement from state officials, “Individuals entering the program may be at different stages of readiness and may progress at their own pace without fear of being terminated from the program or prosecuted. They will not be denied services if they continue substance use or involvement in criminal activity. As a result, housing services do not require participants’ abstinence from substance use to determine housing eligibility or as a condition of remaining housed.”
This is a landmark move by Colorado, one that will offer hope to numerous citizens in the state who suffer from substance abuse or mental health issues. In a state some say has “reached a crisis level” of overdose deaths that “surpass the national average,” the program is a welcomed change.
Doyle Forrestal, CEO of the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council said, “We’re thrilled. We think it’s the most innovative and effective way we can use to get people into treatment in a direct way.”
While the federal government continues to crackdown on marijuana policy, Colorado continues to move forward.
As Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said recently, “We were the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. But while doing so, we’ve helped create a roadmap for other states. And by the way, I don’t think any of us are wild about Washington telling us what’s good for us. We expect that the federal government will respect the will of Colorado voters.”
Colorado has long been at the forefront of marijuana legalization. The decision to help citizens in the state who need it most shows yet another way that cannabis legalization is positively impacting the American people, no matter what Washington has to say.