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Cannabis taxes have not solved Colorado’s budget woes

Cannabis taxes did not solve Colorado’s budget woes. That was never promised or even implied by supporters of legalization. But some money is better than no money.

From the earliest days of the 2012 political campaign to legalize cannabis, there was a promise that a certain amount of the tax revenue would go to schools. That has created confusion ever since about the role of cannabis in school funding. A typical - and frequent - question to CPR News goes, “How can schools need more tax money when cannabis businesses are making so much money?”

The short answer is cannabis tax collections are small compared to the state’s education budget. The state has collected more than $2.3 billion in cannabis taxes since legal recreational sales began in 2014. It’s a large number but just a fraction of the state’s overall budget. Last year, cannabis tax revenue was just .7 percent of the state budget and less than 5 percent of what the state spends on education.

Still, money is money. Schools do get the largest share of weed tax. Behavioral health programs get millions. Cities have built things like recreation centers with their money.

Read more at cpr.org

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