Pubdate: Wed, 18 May 2016
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2016 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Trevor Hughes


Colorado pot smokers are helping send 25 students to college, the 
first scholarships in the U.S. funded with taxes on legal marijuana.

The awards offered by Pueblo County, in southern Colorado, are the 
latest windfall from legal Colorado marijuana sales that are also 
helping build schools and aid the homeless - and in one county, 
providing 8% raises to municipal workers.

Pueblo County is granting $1,000 each to the students; recipients 
will be announced later this month.

"It's incredible," said Beverly Duran, the executive director of the 
Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation, which is overseeing the 
scholarships. "Every year we get a nice pool of students ... but we 
can always only award to a small percentage. This for us expands that 
to extraordinary lengths."

Colorado has the country's most mature legal cannabis marketplace. 
Analysts say the state could see $1 billion in sales this year, and 
last year, growers and buyers paid more than $135 million in cannabis 
taxes and fees. About $35 million is dedicated to school construction 
and upgrades, although cities and counties are also using the money 
to prop up social safety nets, provide drug-addiction counseling and 
increased enforcement to combat underage consumption.

In Aurora, the state's thirdlargest city, marijuana taxes are helping 
improve roads, pay off a municipal recreation center and provide 
direct services for homeless men and women. Aurora has nearly 20 pot 
shops and five grow sites, generating a projected $5.4 million in new 
taxes this year.

Legalization isn't a completely settled issue even within Colorado. 
Pueblo County voters this fall may be asked to ban marijuana stores - 
the same stores generating the scholarship taxes.

Across the country, lawmakers are eyeing Colorado as they consider 
whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, 
Washington state and Washington, D.C., have all legalized adult 
recreational use, and 24 states and the District of Columbia permit 
some form of medical use. That's despite the fact that marijuana 
remains an illegal drug and Schedule 1 controlled substance at the 
federal level.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom