Colorado teachers are protesting this week for higher salaries and increased money for schools, prompting questions about why the state’s booming marijuana sales have not fixed the funding problems.
The 2012 voter-approved constitutional amendment that allowed adults to buy marijuana got a boost from a commitment to send millions of dollars to Colorado schools.
But that requirement amounts to less than 2 percent of the state’s multibillion-dollar education budget, and other marijuana taxes don’t make up the shortfall between what schools need and the state money they get.
Here are things to know about the relationship between marijuana taxes and Colorado education funding:
HOW IS MARIJUANA TAXED?
The first is a 15 percent excise tax charged when marijuana is sold by a grower to a retail store or a business that makes products like candies, lotion or wax that can be smoked or vaporized.
It is based on the state’s calculation of the average market rate for recreational marijuana. Medical pot isn’t subject to the tax.
Customers then pay a 15 percent sales tax when buying recreational marijuana or products.
People buying medical marijuana or products are only charged the state’s general 2.9 percent sales tax, plus any local sales taxes.
WHERE DO THE TAXES ON MARIJUANA GO?
The marijuana amendment that voters approved required the first $40 million in taxes on wholesale marijuana to go into a fund for school construction or maintenance.
Dividing up the state sales taxes on marijuana gets more complicated. Ten percent automatically goes to local governments. A $30 million contribution to a state public school fund controlled by the Department of Education also is required.
Starting this fiscal year, the department will distribute that money to all school districts. In the past, the money could only go to rural school districts.
About 72 percent