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DENVER -- Teacher salaries have not seen a single cent of the marijuana tax revenue that's pouring into Colorado. As thousands of teachers march on the state Capitol over education funding, many are wondering what happened to the pot money?
Colorado made history as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, and when voters passed Amendment 64 they believed the taxes would go a long ways toward helping schools.
Marijuana tax revenue during the 2017-2018 budget year was roughly 1.6 percent of the state's K-12 education budget, according to the Colorado Department of Education. The total marijuana revenue for the CDE was $90.3 million during that time period; that's compared with the total education budget of $5.6 billion.
Most of the money is distributed to school districts in the form of the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program, which doles out awards for school construction. The first $40 million from the marijuana excise tax goes directly to that fund school improvement.
"Amendment 64 was specific on where the money would go, the only thing it said about education specifically was the first $40 million of excise taxes would go toward school construction projects so that’s what voters approved," said Jeremy Meyer, a spokesperson for CDE.
Marijuana tax revenue also goes toward grants for literacy, bullying prevention and dropout prevention.