Cannabis sales and tax revenue numbers are one of the few bright spots within an American economy that is reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. When you support craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf, you are helping support your local community in many ways, from providing jobs to your neighbors to helping fund various social programs that benefit your city, county, and state.
Unfortunately, the global health crisis has caused an economic collapse unlike anything that we’ve seen since the Great Depression. While many industries wonder how they are going to survive, cannabis commerce appear poised to remain strong. As government’s look for solutions, utilizing cannabis tax revenue effectively should be a part of any sensible policy proposal. Trinidad, Colorado, implemented a rainy day fund to assist local businesses and residents, a program that should be an example for other governments to follow, as Westword reports:
The southern Colorado town, fewer than fifteen miles from the New Mexico border, has used $100,000 in marijuana tax revenue from Trinidad’s 25 dispensaries to provide utility stipends for residents, as well as $300,000 for rent and utility relief for local businesses and $100,000 for extra funding split between the town’s hospital and the Las Animas County Health Department to fight COVID-19.
Trinidad economic development coordinator Wally Wallace says that one-third of local marijuana tax revenue is set aside for a “rainy-day fund,” which has been flush over the last several years. After COVID-19 spread across Colorado, Trinidad staffers feared that a drop in tax revenue during the first quarter of 2020 was inevitable — but Trinidad dispensaries broke a sales record during that period, putting $853,000 in tax revenue at the city’s disposal right after statewide stay-home orders were implemented.
“We’ve been setting aside money for that rainy-day fund for a while, which has been fantastic. When COVID-19 came in, we were trying to figure out how to react and help our local businesses while the federal and state governments were still trying to do the same,” Wallace says. “We understand this pandemic is still going on, and we still might see some drastic changes. People maybe were panic buying early on, but that being said, we’re still shocked about the lines outside of dispensaries right now.”
Over 100 neighborhood businesses have been assisted by the relief fund and local residents can apply for up to $250 for help making utility payments during these trying times. As circumstances change over time, cities and states should adapt to various needs and be flexible with cannabis tax revenue. Of course, these officials should be doing all that they can to help the cannabis industry thrive, including adding their voices and resources to federal lobbying efforts around fair banking and tax laws.