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Oregon Schools Get Millions from Pot Taxes

Cannabis legalization in Oregon has gained millions in pot taxes for the State's school systems. This is a win for Oregon and for legalization overall.

Thanks to cannabis legalization in Oregon, the State's Department of Revenue has paid out $85 million in revenue from the state marijuana taxes to the state’s public schools, health services, local governments and police departments. The total amount of local and state marijuana taxes was more than $108 million, with almost $10 million allocated for cannabis regulation to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the Department of Revenue.

This is a huge win for the state of Oregon and for the cannabis legalization movement overall. When I was volunteering for the Yes on Measure 91 campaign in 2014, I founded a group called Moms for YES on Measure 91 . Helping support Oregon's schools (and ultimately, our children) was one of the biggest reasons that other moms/parents were in support of cannabis legalization and regulation, and it is so rewarding to see it becoming a reality. Many other states that are coming online with legalization initiatives look to Oregon for an example and numbers like this are just more proof of why a legalized, regulated system is better than an unregulated market for cannabis.

Twenty percent of the taxes will go to alcohol treatment services, mental health, and drug counseling services. The schools will get 40 percent of the pie with 15 percent going to the Oregon State Police Department. The Oregon Health Authority will receive 5 percent, and the state will spend one million dollars on alcohol and drug abuse prevention and youth cannabis prevention programs.

Ballot Measure 91 made recreational cannabis legal in Oregon, and the measure had a stipulation that the tax revenue would be allocated to the Common School Fund. The Common School Fund was meant to be a biannual endowment for grades K through 12. Parents who worked alongside me on the Yes for Measure 91 campaign sought this outcome when we advocated legalization and regulation, in addition to making marijuana less accessible to minors as well as freeing up law enforcement resources.

Legislatures instead voted for the funds to go to the State School Fund, which ensures the revenue goes directly to the school districts. The Confederation of Oregon School Administrators’ deputy director Morgan Allen says that the school districts are happy about the change.

The legislative director of the Oregon PTA Otto Schell says that while the revenue is welcomed, it isn’t enough to fix the current problems of a statewide school system that costs $30 million per day to operate.

Economists have anticipated that by mid-year 2019, revenue from marijuana taxes will be more than $210 million. School districts expect that once the taxes are divided between them, the revenue will earn them each about $5 million more for their budgets annually.

These numbers don't lie. When states are considering legalization initiatives, it is imperative that the potential tax revenue of a legalized and regulated market is considered. The positive budgetary and economic impacts of cannabis legalization have been documented over and over again in the ares of education and other public services in legalized states.

This article was co-authored by Niko Mann, who is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. She enjoys writing about activism, social justice, politics, education, marketing, and comedy.

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