The grass is looking greener for one Colorado school district as it has recently accepted a marijuana tax grant. The Aspen School District was given a $250,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Education’s School Health Professionals Grant Program, and it will use that money to hire an on-campus social worker, as reported by The Aspen Times.
In 2016, the Finance Department recorded that Aspen, whose downtown area holds six dispensaries, sold over $9.7 million worth of marijuana—both recreational and medicinal—which totaled over a million more than they had sold the year before.
The Aspen School District Assistant Superintendent Tom Heald noted that the quantity of marijuana shops, along with the formation of the Valley Marijuana Council, a marijuana-focused education and outreach program, assisted in awarding the marijuana tax grant.
“It’s all a reflection of this collective effort that we realize we can’t do it all alone,” Heald said.
According to Heald, the new social worker will aim to provide younger school children important social skills with the hope that as students grow older they will be equipped to properly handle social pressures, like alcohol, marijuana or harder substances.
“On the high school level … we’d be more focused on intervention because there are some kids who may already have some involvement (in substances) and made some behavior choices around their use.”
According to its website, the Colorado Department of Education’s School Health Professionals Grant Program intends to provide Colorado school districts and charter schools with money to employ the proper workers “to provide substance abuse and behavioral health care to students who have substance abuse or other behavioral health needs.”
With the help of the School Health Professionals Grant Program, Colorado distributed nearly $9.4 million to school districts for the 2017-18 school year. Schools that applied for the marijuana tax grant had to show a balance of 10% of the money requested.
According to Phyllis Reed, the Colorado Education Department’s Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Content Specialist, 66 school districts and charter schools applied for grants, but only two-thirds have been awarded funds.
“We stretched the money as far as we could go,” Reed said.