The cannabis industry has been filling the coffers of Denver’s city budget since legalization began in January 2014. The city collects nearly $45 million a year from marijuana, nearly doubling its revenue in just four years.
In the first three years of the “grand experiment,” the vast majority of the money was funneled to one-off projects such as paving roads. Nearly all of the state’s portion of cannabis tax revenue is earmarked for education. But now, Denver is beginning to spread the wealth around.
“As the cities and states have more experience in this situation, you’ll see them begin to leverage these dollars,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
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According to a report on Denver TV station Fox31, a wide variety of much-needed city projects are about to get an infusion of revenue. The report revealed that funds will be used to replace aging irrigation systems and other infrastructure projects in dire need of repair.
One of the more interesting uses of the marijuana funding will help historic sites get a makeover. According to Fox31:
This year, for the first time, the Denver Parks and Recreation department is benefiting big. They are receiving four million dollars in funding.
“This is where they started to build out the benches for the seating that would eventually become the stadium of Red Rocks today,” Shannon Dennison, Cultural Resource Administrator with Denver Mountain Parks said.
The very men who built the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre lived in nearby barracks during the Great Depression.
“The Civilian Conservation Corps was based here. There were about 200 young men who were out of work in the country who came here,” Dennison said.
The Mount Morrison Civilian Conservation Core Camp was built in the 1930s thanks to federal funding. More than 80 years later, the camp will be revamped courtesy of $500,000 from Denver’s cannabis industry. “It’s really going to give us the ability to keep this place going for another hundred years,” Dennison said.
Here are some of the other infrastructure projects, according to Fox31’s report, that will receive marijuana funding:
- $600,000 to fix the boardwalk at Sloan’s Lake.
- $750,000 to fund a new irrigation system at Harvard Gulch North.
- $400,000 thousand dollars to provide a facelift to the park Asbury and Tejon, located on the southern end of Denver.
- $1.7 million dollars will fund the crumbling 1oo-year-old terracotta walls at Sullivan Gateway.
“No matter what your stance is on marijuana, those tax revenues are coming back to the Parks and Rec department to help us get projects done that would not have been done before,” Gilmore said.