Denver’s After-School Programs Benefit From Retail Marijuana Sales Tax

(Top) Student holding books. (Bottom) Jars filled with marijuana flower buds.
(Top) Student holding books. Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash. (Bottom) Jars filled with marijuana flower buds. Photo by Get Budding on Unsplash.

In 2018 the city of Denver received about $46 million in marijuana tax, according to Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. The Denver Afterschool Alliance gets $1.5 million yearly for after-school and summer learning programs and has extended programs to neighborhoods with little support and implemented more training for the program faculty. As attempts to legalize marijuana increases, after-school directors in other cities are paying close attention.

Colorado passed the recreational use of marijuana for adults in 2012 with a tax attributing some capitals for education. Denver also imposed a special tax on marijuana sales — now 5.5% — so that the total marijuana tax rate in the city is about 25%.

Maxine Quintana, director of out-of-school time Initiatives for Denver’s Office of Children’s Affairs and co-founder of the Denver Afterschool Alliance, said the capacity to make a powerful argument for the benefits of out-of-school time programs was crucial in obtaining a share of the city’s special sales tax.

An added aspect was the mayor’s already solid involvement in out-of-school time. He established the My Denver Card, which gives school-aged children unlimited admittance to city recreation centers and, in many cases, after-school and summer enrichment programs.

Also, the after-school group placed itself as the organization best suited to protect and inform youth in the new world of legalized marijuana.

With the first funding of $500,000 from the special marijuana tax in 2012, the Denver Afterschool Alliance designed an educational program established on policies of positive youth development to supply kids with knowledge about marijuana use.

A 10-hour course called Healthy Lifestyles 101 for 5th through 9th graders is directed at demystifying myths about marijuana, helping after-school providers address the question, and making sure kids know the legal age of use is 21. It examines misunderstandings that, like cigarettes, people only have to be 18 to buy marijuana, and that because it is a plant, it is healthy and good for you. Health risks are regarded, and the program confronts a belief among some youths that everyone their age is using marijuana.

For more on this story, read Denver Turned Marijuana Into Money For After-School Programs. Other Cities Are Taking Note. by Stell Simonton at Chalkbeat.


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