“Where‘s all that marijuana money?” Colorado‘s pot dollars help schools, but maybe not as much as you think

A big part of the 2012 pitch to convince Colorado voters they should legalize recreational marijuana was that the tax money would fix their local schools.

Five years after the first sale occurred on Jan. 1, 2014, that tax money has translated into $160 million toward school construction statewide – roughly enough to build three high schools. Meanwhile, the state has actually collected more than $740 million.

“People frequently ask, ‘Where‘s all that marijuana money?‘” said Tim Reed, executive director of facilities and construction for Jefferson County Schools and chairman of the state board that selects the school projects that get funded. “I can‘t tell you how many community meetings I‘ve been to where this comes up.”

The issue, Reed said, isn‘t a lack of money but rather a misconception about how marijuana taxes were to be spent, mostly because of the campaign to pass Amendment 64.

“No one really read the fine print,” Reed said. “They all thought the pot smokers would support public education.”