Marijuana's legal status may remain a source of heated debate across the rest of the country, but fully legal states like Colorado have wasted no time putting the burgeoning weed industry to good use. The first tax-funded weed scholarship program, headed by the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation (PHEF), is set to announce its inaugural group of scholarship recipients later this month.
"Every kid deserves an opportunity to succeed," Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace said in a press release. "College debt has surpassed even credit card debt in America. Middle class families find it hard to send their kids to college, a basic cornerstone of the American Dream." According to a report from USA Today, 25 students have been selected to received $1,000 each toward their presumably hefty college expenses.
PHEF, according to the organization's official website, is focused on "sowing seeds for a brighter future." In addition to helping prospective college students realize their dreams of higher education, the group also regularly organizes outreach events like this year's Cinco de Mayo Run and an annual golf tournament.
In a statement to Complex, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Deputy Director Paul Armentano praised the scholarship news as indicative of the many possibilities present in a regulated and taxed marijuana industry. "Regulating and taxing above-ground market sales of cannabis like other retail commodities allows for lawmakers to establish legal parameters regarding where, when, and how an adult cannabis market may operate, permits greater safety and transparency for both the consumer and the seller, and redirects revenue from the black market to the greater community," Armentano said.
Allen S. Pierre, NORML's Director, echoed Armentano's sentiments. "NORML welcomes the news that 25 students will benefit from the voter-approved cannabis law reforms in Pueblo County and Colorado in general," Pierre told Complex Tuesday. "There are dozens of local and state benefits that are derived from ending cannabis prohibition, many of them measurable and equitable, these scholarships serve as prime examples."
The legal weed industry is booming nationwide, with some analysts arguing it could easily top $20 billion annually by 2020. This boom, due in large part to recreationally legal states like Colorado and Washington, comes despite the fact that marijuana is still technically considered a Schedule I substance at the federal level. However, as slyly revealed deep inside a 25-page memo to legislators, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) may be set to change all of that very soon.