EDGEWATER, Colo. (CBS4) – The sales of medical and recreational marijuana has grown into a billion dollar industry since it was legalized.
Many celebrated the unofficial 4/20 holiday Thursday. A new CBS News poll shows the number of Americans who support legalization has reached a new high of 61 percent in favor, up five points from 2016.
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The tax revenue from marijuana has help fund roads, public buildings and scholarships. CBS News reporter Barry Petersen looked into how Colorado communities are dealing with the windfall along with the stigma.
Petersen visited Edgewater, which has six pot shops in a town of 5,300 people. The Denver suburb has generated $1.4 million in sales tax revenue from pot, which is 20 percent of its annual budget.
City officials say that money will be used in part to replace the old city hall with a $10 million complex.
Denver marijuana shop owner Tim Cullen wanted to give back to the community by donating $200,000 to a nonprofit. Despite the act of generosity, several groups declined the donation. Cullen says he believes it was the stigma of pot money.
“I was shocked, honestly. It was more difficult than I thought it would be,” said Cullen.
Cullen’s donation was eventually accepted by the City of Denver as part of a private-public project to build a pavilion at a park to be used for free concerts.
Meanwhile, Pueblo County is also benefiting from marijuana taxes. That money is now giving college students pot-funded scholarships.
Janet Calzadillas is a student at Colorado State University’s Pueblo campus. She said, “I don’t think without this scholarship I’d be able to continue my education without taking out loans and worrying about how I’m going to pay them back.”
Every graduating high school student in the county will qualify for a pot scholarship to be used at local colleges.
Benefits of pot sales taxes will suffer if the Trump Administration moves to ban the sale of recreational pot, even if it allows medical marijuana. Pot advocates say the sale of recreational marijuana will be pushed to the black market, which means taxes will not be collected.