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Colorado uses $3 million from marijuana taxes to provide food and shelter for homeless

The debate over the legalization of marijuana has been prevalent in North American culture for over 50 years. The state of Colorado’s decision in October 2014 to legalize marijuana for recreational use was seen as a revolution by both sides of the divide. Colorado has decided to use marijuana tax dollars to help the homeless. It thus gave food for thought for other countries, demonstrating how legalization can help alleviate social problems that afflict every city.

Colorado and Marijuana

Since that decision was made nearly four years ago, the state of Colorado has seen a year-over-year increase in tax revenue earned from cannabis sales. In the last budget year, which ended in June 2016, the state brought in nearly $70 million. Revenue obtained through taxation was one of the key arguments for legalizing weed. Now that this argument has been clearly validated, many taxpayers have been wondering what the state will do with the additional money.

The response in one city is almost as revolutionary as the passage of the law itself. Aurora will use more than a third of the $4.5 million earned through cannabis taxation to support nonprofit organizations.

Over the next three years, a total of more than  $3 million will be given to a variety of groups across the city who work with the homeless community.

The positive impact of marijuana on society

The world has lauded the decision, passed in May 2016, as an example of how marijuana legalization can benefit the local community. City Councilman Bob Roth believes it shows the people of Aurora the influence local government can have. “We wanted to be able to show citizens that we are having a positive impact on the community and target specific projects for where the money will go.”

With over 1,000 homeless people on the streets of Aurora, this powerful example of local government working for the most vulnerable members of society will positively impact the lives of people across the city.

So far the government has not committed all the money to specific projects, as the city is still working on the full list of projects they wish to support. However, the Colfax Community Network received $220,000 to help with operating costs. The money ensures Colfax can continue their critical work, with additional funding it will secure over the next two years.

Finding homes for the homeless

In addition, they also received money from Comitis Crisis Center and Aurora Mental Health for each organization to purchase a van and hire two assistants. This decision allows them to access homeless people who cannot reach their shelters.

One Aurora Housing Association will receive  $45,000 to pay the salary of their owner coordinator to enable them to serve in the role full time. The work is crucial to ensuring the cycle of homelessness does not continue, as landlords often refuse requests from formerly homeless people. Alongside these confirmed financial commitments, the city is considering building a series of day centers across the city. Homeless people will be able to wash their clothes, receive mental health assistance and take a shower.

The legalization of marijuana is undoubtedly a controversial issue. However, the positive use of the money made from it in Aurora is proof of the good it can do. The homeless community is often viewed as an unwanted subcategory of people by society. A subcategory that doesn’t deserve empathy, that is deservedly avoided, and a subcategory that exists because of drugs. The city of Aurora uses money from drug sales to restore basic rights to the homeless population.


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