The governor also wants to spend money on training additional police officers to check for stoned drivers and start a pilot project to study marijuana use during pregnancy. But lawmakers who will ultimately decide how the money is spent seemed leery on Tuesday of divvying up money that hasn’t come in yet.
“What is the level of urgency and threat that makes us want to hurry up and spend the money before it even comes in the door?” asked Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver.
Hickenlooper trimmed his marijuana request by $20 million last week. But the governor’s pared-down proposal still adds up to about $54 million, more than lawmakers feel certain Colorado will collect.
Instead, members of the Joint Budget Committee said they’d like to treat marijuana tax proceeds like gambling taxes. That means that they’d collect marijuana taxes but delay spending them by a year so that they don’t commit to funding a program only to see its volatile tax source shrivel.
The level of caution wasn’t shared by all, though. Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, said that Colorado can’t wait to start spending some of the pot tax money on youth marijuana-use prevention and drug treatment.