Just in from the Steel City in southern Colorado: Pueblo County commissioners announced today that "the world's first cannabis-funded scholarship has begun accepting applications for its first full year of funding."
As ColoradoPolitics.com's Peter Marcus reported in December, ever since voters statewide approved the legal, if limited, cultivation and sales of recreational marijuana in 2012, various jurisdictions have begun spending their own local marijuana taxes in ways they feel serve their communities. As noted in Marcus's report, Pueblo County has been developing a program using marijuana tax revenue to fund college scholarships and community improvement projects.
Monday's press statement formally kicking off the endeavor laid out the program's parameters:
The Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation will administer the scholarship under contract with the county;
The county's marijuana excise tax, which is a tax on all marijuana grown in Pueblo County, is expected to generate some $425,000 in revenue toward the program for students this fall;
Applicants in this first year of the program will automatically qualify for the $1,000 scholarships if they are Pueblo residents, graduate high school this year and attend either Pueblo Community College or Colorado State University-Pueblo in the Fall of 2017;
Students can apply for the Pueblo County Scholarship online at www.phef.net by April 30.
The commissioners issued a joint statement celebrating the program's first full year of funding:
"Pueblo County has been on the forefront of cannabis policy in America and the world. The full rollout of our cannabis-funded scholarship program is groundbreaking. We are the first community in the world to provide a cannabis-funded scholarship to every graduating high school senior. It is so critically important to make college affordable for our youth if we want to provide long-term economic opportunity to our community. Too many kids can't afford to go to college, with this program we are taking cannabis-tax revenue and using it to provide for a brighter future in Pueblo."
As also noted in the commission's press statement: A minimum of 50 percent of all of the marijuana excise tax collected in Pueblo County is allocated to the Pueblo County Scholarship Fund. The remaining marijuana excise tax revenue is allocated to a list of community enhancement projects.