States Leading the Way in Cannabis Legalization

As cannabis legalization spreads from coast to coast, each state takes a different approach to how they use their cannabis profits and revenue. Some states in particular are making huge impacts with money collected from legal cannabis, setting the stage for other states and showing them how they can benefit communities through legal cannabis profits.


Colorado has been, perhaps, one of the most progressive states when it comes to benefiting from cannabis legalization. As of 2020, the taxes that came from Colorado cannabis businesses have funded programs for cleaner roads, with 51 cannabis companies sponsoring 66 percent of the roads covered by the “Clean Colorado.” Tax revenue has also gone into anti-bullying programs for schools, which helped teachers and school staff teach over 34,400 students.

Another way Colorado is using its cannabis tax revenue for good is by helping the homeless. In 2018, The Denver Post reported that Aurora, in the Denver metro area, spent $7.3 million on homeless services and housing. Cannabis tax revenue has also been used to fund scholarships. In 2019, the Pueblo Chieftain published a story about Pueblo using its cannabis tax revenue to award $700,000 in scholarships for the 2019–2020 school year.


Just like Colorado, California has been progressive with its cannabis programs, putting cannabis tax revenue toward programs that benefit the community. According to the news outlet Leafly, the Golden State received an estimated $635 million in state and local cannabis tax revenue in 2019, which went toward youth anti-drug programs, the environment, and public safety grants.

California’s money from tax revenue is spent in various ways, such as childcare for low-income families, safer roads, cannabis science and policy research, and more. Most recently, the news outlet Marijuana Moment reported that California will provide $30 million in grant funding for individuals who have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war, an initiative from the Bureau of Cannabis Control and Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.


The most recent in this list to legalize cannabis for adult-use, the Nevada cannabis industry created 8,300 full-time jobs once it was legalized. In May of 2019, Nevada lawmakers introduced a bill that would move all money that was collected from the state’s 10 percent excise sales tax on cannabis toward education. The same year, Clark County commissioners decided to divert $1.8 million of cannabis licensing fee revenue to fight homelessness.

Of the $1.8 million going toward the homeless, Clark County directed $855,000 to expand services at HELP of Southern Nevada’s Shannon West Homeless Youth Center, a facility that can house up to 166 at-risk youth from ages 16 to 22. In addition, $930,000 will be allocated to go toward rehousing homeless individuals who have been discharged from the hospital.

A common theme throughout these states leading the way for cannabis legalization is that the cannabis tax revenue goes toward programs that benefit communities, usually through education. We’re happy to see these states taking the initiative to create better communities with money raised from cannabis legalization and hope that other states follow suit.

A common theme among these states that have legalized cannabis is that they put cannabis tax revenue toward programs that benefit communities, usually through education. They are taking the initiative to create better communities with money raised from cannabis legalization, setting an example for other states to follow.

Education is an important component of understanding an environment where cannabis legalization has been expanding, which is why we created our Graduate Certificate in Cannabis Control. Learn more about our program and see how it can help you achieve your cannabis career goals.