Here’s a novel idea we hope catches on. Marijuana has done so much for the city of Aurora, Colorado, that $1.5 million — which was generated from tax on recreational weed — was used to support the homeless population. Though the news first made headlines mid-2016, we feel the development remains relevant, as cannabis is being legalized in the U.S. and elsewhere at a rapid pace.
The city made the announcement in September of 2016. Shortly after, a number of groups were designated to receive the funds. According to the Huffington Post, the city Council members will evaluate each group’s progress before committing to renewing the funds after the first year.
The Colfax Community Network, a nonprofit that assists families living in motels, received $200,000 from the special funds. Two other groups — the Comitis Crisis Center and Aurora Mental Health — received funds to buy vans to boost their homeless outreach efforts. Each van cost between $30,000 and $44,000.
$1.5 million is a lot of money, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of funds cities bring in by taxing recreational weed. According to the Denver Post, Aurora was forecasted to bring in $5.4 million in 2016.
Incredibly, authorities did more than allocate $1.5 million to help the homeless. Another $680,000 was set aside for city nonprofits, and $2 million was used to issue bonds to build a new recreation center in the southeast part of the city.
Said Bob Roth, a city councilman: “We wanted to be able to show citizens that we are having a positive impact on the community and point to specific projects or initiatives to where that money is going to.”
Aurora has set a new precedent by taking advantage of the marijuana market to help the most vulnerable in society. Fortunately, it is not the only city to use pot to alleviate homelessness. In March of 2016, Los Angeles proposed a series of measures to fund housing for homeless people. As the Huffington Post reports, one of the suggestions was to tax cannabis.
If a 15 percent tax on pot sales and cultivation was passed, the city would bring in $16.7 million annually — and that’s just on medical marijuana. Imagine the revenue if recreational was passed, then taxed.
As marijuana is legalized across the U.S. and in European countries, hopefully, cities and states will use the generated funds to supply permanent housing and suppo