Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper put forward a proposal to put some of those mega-marijuana bucks the state is making off of marijuana taxes. He plans to put $12.3 million of recreational cannabis tax proceeds toward programs that would aid with rising homelessness in the state, as reported by the Denver Post.
Colorado experienced a 6 percent increase in homelessness, one of the fastest rates in a country that’s national homeless rate is going down. While Colorado has a homeless population of roughly 10,000 people, the state only supplies 7,000 beds for the cause, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Programs funded by Hickenlooper’s plan would focus on addiction treatment, services for the mentally ill, and job training. The proposal still needs to go before the state legislature.
Meanwhile, California, which is going to experience a major surge in tax dollars when cannabis goes legal in 2018, has no official plans to spend these proceeds on its homeless problem, a major issue that frankly dwarfs Colorado’s by comparison. 2016 saw an overall increase of homelessness by 3 percent, but a 7 percent rise in Los Angeles’s homeless population from 41,174 to 43,854.
Rent inflation in California has contributed to the problem, making it “harder and harder to exit homelessness and to find [affordable] places,” as executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Matthew Dougherty told SFGate.
There was a proposal earlier this year to put $1.78 billion in Los Angeles’s cannabis taxes toward affordable housing for the homeless over the course of ten years, but the plan was abandoned as lawmakers feared the coming recreational market would change marijuana taxes drastically.
Many areas of life in Colorado and California deserve funding from the state’s cannabis cash cow, including education, but spending a large chunk of the money to bring relief to the people in the state who suffer the most would be a compassionate and kind act well in line with the philosophy of cannabis culture.
Photo via Flickr user Hunter Desportes