Once again, Colorado is showing the good things that happen when people gain freedom and a new industry is born. For the second year in a row, $40 million from taxes on legal pot sales will be going into a program to repair and replace rundown schools.
According to the Denver Post, this figure funds a significant portion of the $300 million in funding for the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program, along with funding from other sources including the lottery and the Colorado Land Board. Although billions more are needed to completely fix the problem of crumbling schools, officials welcome anything they can get to provide the kids a good school.
“I don’t care where the money comes from, if we get a new school, I’m for it,” said Hayley Whitehead, a Deer Trail graduate who works as the district’s administrative assistant. “I see the invoices and see what we need for repairs, so I have a pretty good idea of the situation here.”
“There are lots of so-called ‘sin taxes’ for uses and products that people don’t necessarily endorse,” added Jay Hoskinson, regional program manager for capital construction for the Colorado Department of Education. “But I think people also start looking at it as a possible new revenue source. And it kind of gets intermingled with other funding and becomes pretty much all part of the same package.”
“And so far, we’ve not heard from any school districts who say, “No, we are not going to use that money,’” Hoskinson said.”
The Denver Post cites Deer Trail as a poignant example. The old school—where wheelchair-bound students must be hoisted upstairs—will be demolished and replaced by a state-of-the-art school serving students from preK to 12th grade. The new school will cost $34 million.
There is also a housing rush in Deer Trail, which is another hint that legal recreational pot sales are part of an economic upswing in Colorado. We already know that the cannabis industry is contributing more to the economy than any other industry in the state.
The bottom line is, if people want to ingest substances considered “illicit” by government, they are going to do it. Instead of the futility of prohibition—which only brings cruelty and suffering—states like Colorado have embraced the rationality of decriminalization. And they’re making a lot of money from it.
Meanwhile, none of the horrible things that drug war fanatics predicted are coming true. Teenagers are not using cannabis more than they did when it was illegal, car crashes are not increasing from ‘stoned driving,’ and society has refrained from going berserk.
Millions of dollars that went into the black market are now going into schools and other beneficial endeavors. People can now buy cannabis from reputable vendors who tell consumers exactly what is in the products. Traffic stops resulting in searches have drastically declined, meaning citizens are less likely to be extorted, injured or killed by cops.
Safety, human rights and economy are the most important reasons for cannabis decriminalization, even if states are doing it just for the tax money. Even the most die-hard prohibitionist must think twice when seeing new schools being built in part thanks to legal pot.