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Cannabis Tax Revenue Provides $31 Million to Arizona Community Colleges

Arizona has received funding for $31 million from recreational marijuana taxes to fund ten community colleges. Associated Press reports. Arizona’s recreational cannabis law states that one-third of the 16 percent excise tax will be set aside for community colleges every year. Each college may use the funds to support “workforce development, STEM and certain other education programs.” The rest of the tax funds are earmarked for public safety, transportation and criminal justice.

According to J.D., the President of Cochise College, Cochise College was awarded $2 million. Rottweiler will use it to fund its academy for first responders. “It wouldn’t be done at the level that we’re now able to do because of those dollars coming in,” Rottweiler said. “It really allows us to springboard this initiative and move it quicker at a time when our frontline workers are greatly needed.”

Maricopa Community College, which has been awarded $17.2 million in funding, is one of the most successful colleges in Arizona. These funds will be used to finance operations at GateWay Community College. This college offers many certificate programs across a range of subjects.

Arizona Western College received $1.7 million and according to spokesperson Mandy Heil, the funds will be allocated to update its facilities, including its “e-gaming, cybersecurity and allied health,” and also plans to restructure an old residence hall as a “living-learning facility.”

These funds were distributed to the remaining colleges: Pima Community College, Yavapai College, Central Arizona College ($1.3million), Central Arizona College and Yavapai College.

Collectively, these Arizona colleges received a little over $31 million, which is nearly the same amount of funds ($30 million) that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey had proposed to use in federal funding toward “workforce accelerators” on February 2. “Arizona’s community colleges are an integral part of the engine that drives our economic momentum. And boy, in Arizona do we have momentum,” said Ducey. “Community colleges in Arizona have not only been the secret sauce, but the secret weapon for our transformed economy.” The workforce accelerators will “form a network of job training centers to prepare Arizonans for next generation jobs.”

Arizona’s first year of legal marijuana sales is now complete. It was approved by the voters in November 2020. The program started on January 21, 2021. The Arizona Department of Revenue reports that Arizona residents spent over $1.4 Billion on recreational marijuana in 2021. This includes approximately $650 M in revenue from cannabis recreational sales. Arizona’s medical cannabis program has been established for over a decade now, and during 2021, only surpassed recreational sales during every month except two. With $61.6 for recreational, and $61.4 for medical, the recreational sales tax barely managed surpassing medical sales tax in November 2021. Arizona realized $63.8 million in recreational marijuana sales in December 2021. This compares to $53.5million for medical cannabis.

Arizona was also recently included in the annual Americans for Safe Access “State of the States Report.” The ASA report revisits progress, or lack thereof, in each state in regards to recreational and medical cannabis programs. While no state received an “A” this year and two others received a “B” (Maine, Illinois), the vast majority of states earned a “C grade,” including Arizona, which received a “minus”. The following is a list of the Phoenix New Times, Arizona’s cannabis programs are on the average scale. “Arizona’s C- rating places it in the middle of the pack, but in the top half, with 18 state programs better, 32 worse, and four others the same.” Among its weakest points, according to the ASA, is the state’s program administration. However, it did receive higher marks for “Patient rights and civil protections,” “Consumer Protection and Product Safety,” and “Access to medicine.”