By now everyone knows that pot is big business – it’s big business for entrepreneurs, shop owners, investors, growers, and, most of all, good old Uncle Sam. According to Market Watch, the state of Colorado alone made almost 200 million dollars in tax revenue off of the 1.3 billion dollars in cannabis cash.
This influx has continuously been on the upswing ever since Colorado legalized back in 2012; in the first year of sales in 2014, the Centennial State’s marijuana industry reached 699 million; in the second year, it hit 996 million. With this pace, 2017 may see a near two-billion-dollar mark.
Other states that have legalized are either experiencing a similar perk or will soon. Meanwhile, those still in the dark ages (the dark ages being 2011) are left missing out on millions of dollars in tax revenue.
As a whole, the cannabis industry grew by 30 percent last year in sales alone (this according to Arcview Market Research). The forecast is that the market will continue to grow by a compound rate of 25 percent over the next five years. This means more tax dollars for state governments whose citizens are down with dope.
As discussed in other articles, the tax revenue made from medicinal and recreational weed isn’t life-changing, but it is budget-changing; it won’t solve all the issues of governmental spending, certainly, but it at least helps. Simply, some tax revenue is so much better than none.
Cannabis and College
Since the sixties, pot has been synonymous with college; it’s ingrained in the atmosphere, stuck between frat parties and shower shoes. In short, it’s hard to get out of college without trying marijuana.
But now cannabis and higher learning means something else: marijuana isn’t just about being in college; it’s about getting into college too. At least that’s the case in Colorado.
Colorado tax dollars go to many things, including public education, substance abuse programs and agricultural programs. Now some of these funds are packing their bags, buying a lava lamp, and heading off to college.
In Pueblo County (a county located in Southern Colorado), any senior set to attend Pueblo Community College or Colorado State University-Pueblo is allowed to apply for a cannabis-funded scholarship. This scholarship provides the recipient with around 1,000 dollars and aims to provide help for up to 475 students.
This scholarship, the Pueblo County Scholarship, was created back in 2015; it began accepting applications back in February and ended on April 30th. The plan is to award any student who qualifies; leftover money will be based on both merit and need.
In a press release, the scholarship program said the following: “We are the first community in the world to provide a cannabis-funded scholarship to every graduating high school senior. It is so critically important to make college affordable for our youth if we want to provide long-term economic opportunity to our community.
Too many kids can’t afford to go to college, with this program we are taking cannabis-tax revenue and using it to provide a brighter future in Pueblo
Other counties in Colorado are dispersing funds in areas they see need. In Edgewater, a city that receives 20 percent of its total sales tax from cannabis commerce, the local government is building a new city hall with what they made on marijuana. A city hall or a city holla!
The Cost of College
The cost of college has been a hot debate with some people advocating for free access to higher education with others claiming that that’s a nice thought, but it’s not something feasible without drastic tax increases (an idea that doesn’t thrill most people). Still, a lot of citizens do agree that college is too expensive and anything that can be done to lower to costs should. Cannabis scholarships, such as the one discussed above, are an easy solution that makes a big difference for students. It’s a difference that’s necessary.
According to Forbes, college is getting more expensive by the year. The average annual cost of tuition and fees for a public university for 2014 was over nine thousand dollars a year in state and over 22,000 dollars a year for out of state. Private colleges, as they’ve always been, are much more expensive: they cost an average of 31,000 dollars a year.
But one year of college doesn’t really open up a lot of job prospects (unless you’re good enough at basketball to play in the NBA); to obtain a bachelor’s degree, most students need at least four years and sometimes longer.
That ups the cost of education: a four-year degree from a public university is around 40,000 (for in state students) and 98,000 (for out of state students)
For private schools, the average cost of a Bachelors is approximately 135,000..…..and that’s just the tuition. You must also factor in the cost of housing, books, and other living expenses (like food and, let’s face it, beer).
In some areas, this isn’t too bad, but certain college towns are notorious for their expensive rent. Boulder, Colorado, (home of my alma mater the University of Colorado) has one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.
Of course, there are things that make college more affordable. Some kids can room with mom and dad, yet what’s the fun in that? After you turn eighteen, home is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Desperate times do call for desperate measures and obtaining an education is worth the sacrifice.
Other scholarships exist too and so does financial aid, but the latter saddles people with debt before they have a job in which to pay it off.
Cannabis scholarships might not be the solution to affordable education for all, but they’ll be the solution to affordable education for some. And that’s a start. That’s what the marijuana industry is great at: getting things started to see where they go.