Colorado Cannabis Dollars at Work

Thursday, January 24, 2019

There’s a new session of the Colorado General Assembly, and that means a slew of new bills about how cannabis revenue in the state is spent. Here are some of the ways your cannabis tax dollars could be used for good in the year ahead:

  • HB 1031, introduced by Representative Matt Gray, would allow medical marijuana patients under the age of 18 to have more than one primary caregiver at a time. The bill would make a big difference to families with children who use CBD oil to treat epileptic seizures or other medical conditions. Currently, the law allows only one parent or guardian to administer and purchase medical cannabis.”This is a common-sense idea. The idea that one parent can give their kid medicine and the other can’t is kind of ridiculous,” Gray told Westword.
  • HB 1096, the “Colorado Right to Rest Act,” would prohibit discrimination based on housing status as well as establishing basic rights for those experiencing homelessness, “including but not limited to the right to rest in public spaces, to shelter themselves from the elements, to eat or accept food in any public space where food is not prohibited, to occupy a legally parked vehicle, and to have a reasonable expectation of privacy of their property.”The bill is sponsored by Representative Jovan Melton and would seek up to $10 million in marijuana tax revenue over three years.
  • A bill to Expand Medication-Assisted Treatment Pilot Program, SB 001, would continue and expand a bill enacted in 2017 that created a two-year medication-assisted treatment (MAT) pilot program. The 2017 bill is administered by the University of Colorado College of Nursing and expanded access to medication-assisted treatment of opioid dependence to Pueblo and Routt counties. SB 001 would expand the pilot program to include counties in the San Luis Valley and two additional counties. Responsibility for administering the program would shift to the Center for Research into substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery and support strategies.Annual appropriation funds would increase to $5 million for the 2019-’20 and 2020-’21 fiscal years as well as extending the pilot program for an additional two years. The bill is sponsored by Senator Leroy Garcia.
  • Senator Nancy Todd and Representative Bri Buentello introduced SB 066, a bill that would create a trust fund for high-cost special education “to be used for high-cost special education trust fund grants to public school special education administrative units that have made significant expenditures in providing special education services to a child with a disability.”The bill would have an annual appropriation equal to 2 percent of the amount available for appropriation from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.
  • Professional Behavioral Health Services for Schools (SB 010), sponsored by Senator Rhonda Fields, Representative Barbara McLachlan, and Representative Donald Valdez, allows “grant money to be used for behavioral health care services at recipient schools and specifies that grants may also fund behavioral health services contracts with community providers.” SB 010 doesn’t actually request additional funding for grans, but the General Assembly does have the option of appropriating additional funds from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.The Department of Education would be required to prioritize grant applications based on the school’s need for additional health professionals and would allow school districts to enter into agreements with ” specified groups to implement evidence-based, school-wide behavior supports and strategies to build and support positive school climates, including providing behavioral health services and support; implement strategies to reduce the incidence of suspension and expulsion; and implement alternatives to suspension or expulsion.”
  • HB 1008 would amend the existing “Building Excellent Schools Today Act” to include grants to support career and technical education in public schools. The bill would include funding to support:
    • New construction or retrofitting of public school facilities for certain career and technical education programs; and
    • Equipment necessary for individual student learning and classroom instruction, including equipment that provides access to instructional materials or that is necessary for professional use by a classroom teacher.

    Funding for the bill wouldn’t be funded exclusively from marijuana tax dollars. Instead it would come from a combination of State Land Board proceeds, Colorado Lottery spillover funds, and interest accrued in the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund. Matching funds from grant recipients would be required. HB 1008 is sponsored by Senator Nancy Todd, Senator Paul Lundeen, Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp, and Representative Colin Larson.