A county in Colorado may make this world’s first college financial aid program paid for with cannabis money. Pueblo County is thinking of a 5% excise tax on marijuana cultivators, with half the money collected sent to a scholarship fund that experts say would be the first of its kind. Sal Pace, sponsor of the tax measure, and County Commissioner says it could produce over a couple of million dollars annually. The entire commission will vote on Pace’s proposal next week. If approved, voters would need to approve of this tax in November before it may take place.

“What the concept is, is to create the world’s first college scholarships funded by marijuana growers,” Pace said.

50% percent of the proposed excise tax would be divided among Pueblo County high school graduates who remain in the county for college. Pace called his cannabis scholarship program a breakthrough for marijuana legalization. In the past, talks of education funding were spoken of when advocating for marijuana legalization, so now it’s finally trying to be put to use.

“These are the type of promises folks expected when they approved” marijuana, Pace said.

Pace estimated that the excise tax could generate over a couple million dollars annually. There’s no guessing how much money each student will get, but Pace predicted about $500. For the first year, the fund will be limited to county residents at Pueblo Community College or Colorado State University-Pueblo. That would only be about 400 students, but the other half of the excise tax would be given to a list of county capital improvements. These improvements include cleaning up streets, parks, playgrounds, and even bike trails at Pueblo Reservoir. In addition, the excise tax would not be too much of a pain to the county’s growing cannabis industry.

“It won’t be a tax that drives away producers,” Pace said. “Land is cheaper here, water is available, the sunshine is free and there’s an available workforce.”

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