Funds generated by cannabis taxes will be used to fund new mental health facilities in Frisco and Montrose.
Colorado cities Frisco and Montrose will both receive funding for new mental health care clinics, the state’s Office of Behavioral Health recently announced. The money to fund the facilities will come from tax dollars generated by the state’s marijuana market.
Frisco’s current Medical Office Building will receive a four-to-six-bed walk-in crisis unit. In Montrose, a four-bed unit is already under construction at its own location. Both centers will likely be completed by as early as next spring.
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a Senate Bill in May that set aside millions in cannabis tax dollars for Colorado’s mental health system. The bill specifically targeted the deficiency in rural facilities by earmarking nearly $2 million over two years to expand services.
Originally, all the money set aside by the new law was slated for an eight-bed center in Montrose, but Summit County negotiated at the last moment to receive half of that funding for its center in Frisco.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Sarah Vaine, assistant county manager in Summit County, told Summit Daily. “There’s a broad continuum of care and a lot of services needed. I don’t know that there’s a community across the country that has every element of that continuum in place, but any of the steps of care that we get here, the more the better.”
The new law was designed to end mental health holds in county jails. The Frisco medical campus building is already home to a detox and substance-abuse clinic, and this additional crisis center will provide a place where patients can receive support during a mental health episode. Officials hope it will help Summit County deal with what’s been a sharp escalation in mental crisis incidents over the past three years.
“It’s just one more piece,” said Vaine, referring to the crisis unit. “When you have so many gaps, it’s hard to know what is the next step, but this money became available and it’s certainly going to go to good use. Every bed that’s full is one person that’s gotten a higher level [of care] that’s hopefully avoiding getting themselves into any kind of self-harm or criminal situation.”
“Those beds will absolutely go to good use, and then that’ll just give us one more perspective on what’s missing and how we can do better for our community,” Vaine added.
Colorado, the first state in the U.S. to legalize adult use marijuana, has generated more than $500 million in total tax revenue since sales began in 2014. Over half of its cannabis revenue goes to school-related construction and projects. The rest goes to hospitals, road construction, substance abuse programs, and running the program. Colorado counties and cities have used their marijuana tax they’ve generated to fund college scholarships, curb school bullying, and to house and feed the homeless community.