Over and over again Colorado has shown us what can really be done when it comes to legalizing marijuana. There has been a lot of first-time-ever scenarios that have come out of the state since 2012 and we would be crazy to think that would slow down in the years to come.
This time, we’re looking at the first college scholarship that would be entirely funded by marijuana tax. Back in November Pueblo citizens voted with a 60% approval to add a 5% excise tax to marijuana which would reach $3.5 million by the year 2020.
50% of the overall taxes will be set aside for this scholarship fund. The actual award amount will depend on how many students apply for the scholarship – but it is estimated that around 400 students will be awarded $1000 each towards their education.
Scholarships will be available next year for high school seniors who plan to attend Colorado State University-Pueblo or Pueblo Community College as long as they meet the schools admissions requirements.
The city is easily able to raise enough money for the scholarship with this small 5% tax because they are the home of the world’s largest outdoor marijuana farm. It is located in a rare flat and sunny plain that offers the best climate in the state for growing marijuana outdoors.
Since the water supply for the area comes from the Arkansas River basin, which is locally owned, allowing the city to offer marijuana farmers the same water rights as other farmers in the area.
In total, Pueblo County accounts for 3% of all recreational sales in the state – as well as 20% of recreational marijuana production.
“Businesses in the cannabis industry are interested in showing that they are a contributing member of the overall economic community,” Taylor West, deputy director at the National Cannabis Industry Association, tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview Tuesday. “So having the opportunity to contribute to something that will benefit the overall community is something they are willing to be supportive of. People are happy that the industry can make a contribution to the community.”
Even though this scholarship could potentially help hundreds of students afford an education, there is still controversy within national media. People are questioning whether you can tell students to stay away from a substance that is paying for their education.
Truthfully though, this shouldn’t really be an issue at all. You can’t honestly think that there has never been a scholarship funded by the alcohol industry before? It’s the exact same principle here. It shouldn’t matter that the money is being funded through marijuana as long as it is benefiting the future of a student.
In the end, no matter what the national news thinks, the citizens of Pueblo already voted in this tax and the funding for this scholarship has begun! What do you think about a cannabis funded scholarship program? Would you like to see more programs like this as legalization grows?