Colorado will use $2.9 million of the $66 million surplus in tax revenue collected from legal marijuana sales to fund 50 grants for combatting bullying.
Having collected a marijuana tax revenue surplus of $66 million over the past year, Colorado has decided to use a portion of the money to help stop bullying in schools, Denver 7 reports. Colorado Department of Education will award 50 of its schools up to $40,000 each to invest in bully prevention programs.
“It’s a lot of money,” said Dr. Adams Collins, the education grant coordinator for the Colorado Department of Education. “It’s a great opportunity for schools to apply and make sure the social and emotional wellness of their students is taken care of.”
Last November, Colorado residents were given the opportunity to vote on whether the marijuana tax revenue surplus collected by the state would be dispersed back to residents and cannabis growers. Voters passed Proposition BB to allow the state to keep and distribute the surplus funds. Of the $66 million collected from the past year, $2.9 million will go toward the anti-bullying grants.
The Colorado Department of Education’s anti-bullying grant program, established in 2011, didn’t have any funding until last year when the tax revenue collected from legal marijuana sales became available.
“As far as we know, we’re the only state that is proving such significant funds to prevent bullying in schools,” said Collins. “We are excited to have these funds.”
The anti-bullying programs implemented by the Colorado Department of Education will involve the creation of a committee of teachers, staff, and parents. The grant also funds specialized training by a prevention coach.
“It’s more than just teachers doing lessons,” Collins added. “It’s about changing the culture of the school so that it’s a warm environment. So it’s somewhere that bullying can’t thrive.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 28 percent of U.S. students in grades 6 to 12 have reportedly experienced bullying, and 70.6 percent of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
“I think it’s a huge problem,” Colorado high school senior Isabel Dias-Bertch told Denver 7. “It’s something that haunts you the rest of your life.”
Another high school senior told Denver 7 that she “experienced bullying a little more than occasionally.”
Colorado schools have until October 21 to apply for the grant. The 50 winners will be announced by the Colorado Department of Education on December 30 and funds will be distributed sometime in January 2017.
Since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older in 2012, the market has surpassed estimates and grown steadily. Last year, the state collected more than $135 million in taxes and license fees. Nearly a quarter of the revenue is allocated specifically for school construction, and this year the Colorado Health Department decided to use $2.4 million of the revenue to fund a collection of studies to examine the effects of legalization.
Colorado is one of four states — Oregon, Washington, and Alaska being the others — that have passed adult use marijuana laws. Five states will vote on recreational marijuana initiatives in the coming election.