Pot tale of the week

In a letter to the editor that appeared in both the Elko Free Press and the Reno Gazette-Journal, Mary Henderson of Genoa wrote, “Pot tax money to the Denver Public Schools—$0.” It appeared under the headline “[Nevada] Question 2 won’t help fund schools.”

Nevada’s ballot Question 2 contains different provisions from Colorado. As we reported previously (“Nailing it down,” RN&R, Sept. 22), Colorado’s ballot measure never promised large sums to education. “Truth be told, only a portion of the marijuana taxes were dedicated to public schools and only for capital construction,” Colorado Sen. Pat Steadman told KDVR News.

The Colorado measure did provide some support for education, including the first $40 million drawn from the 15 percent marijuana excise tax to school capital construction, and that fund has more than half filled. It is true that Denver has not availed itself of those funds. That’s because they are mainly going to rural districts without much bonding capacity.

But there is more money than just the capital funds. Denver has its own city-level marijuana tax to support schools. “Those [city-level] funds complement another $1.4 million the city provides to other organizations that support Denver students,” according to a video the City of Denver produced about how marijuana taxes are being used. The video was produced to correct bad information being circulated by marijuana opponents. Claims similar to Henderson’s are also being used against a marijuana ballot measure in Arizona—and were corrected by KTVK News.

In addition, Coloradans voted to let state government keep marijuana taxes that would have been rebated to taxpayers, and that $66 million is being used for education.

Other appropriations from Colorado’s heavily taxed marijuana go to the state departments of agriculture, health care policy and financing, human services, the judiciary, public health and environment, public safety, and transportation.

The Nevada ballot measure has different language that earmarks more money for education than the Colorado measure, though how much that will be depends on who’s doing the estimating and how big the market turns out to be.