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The impact of legalizing marijuana: Utilizing grant funding to support youth programs

Grants that stem from marijuana sales consist of an array of programs


One area focus for states distributing marijuana revenue is youth programs.

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In March 2020, Police1 and Louisiana State University (LSU) conducted an expansive survey capturing law enforcement attitudes toward marijuana use and enforcement. A total of 3,615 sworn LEOs weighed in on a range of topics, from the use of medicinal marijuana off duty to decriminalization.

Our special report features expert analysis of the survey findings, covering critical topics like police recruit marijuana use and how marijuana legalization impacts highway safety. Click here to access all our coverage.

By PoliceGrantsHelp Staff

As more states legalize marijuana sales – whether it be for medical or recreational use – and adjust drug policy, local governments look to adjust their response with many grappling with the effects of marijuana legalization.

States that legalize the sale of marijuana have commonly established a tax system. This takes place in the form of a state excise tax, or a tax imposed on the supplier/producer. Revenue from the marijuana tax is then dedicated to general funds, rainy-day funds, and/or dedicated to special programs.

Public servants and local governments are most likely interested in accessing this funding for their community. Communities that are currently being impacted or have previously experienced the effects of drug policies can benefit from marijuana revenue. Most state legislatures have made funding available in the form of grants.

Marijuana and Grant Funding

Grants that stem from marijuana sales consist of an array of programs in education, public health, public safety, substance abuse, law enforcement training, economic development and criminal justice reform efforts.

Below is a snapshot of how states are reinvesting in their local communities:

  • Massachusetts dedicates its revenue toward various public safety programs.
  • Nevada allocates funds toward education programs and a rainy-day fund.
  • Oregon distributes its revenue to education and drug prevention/treatment programs.

A quick look into how states are distributing marijuana revenue demonstrates specific areas of focus that they deem as significantly impacted by the implementation of the new drug policies. One area of focus is youth programming.

Youth and Marijuana Use

The use of tax revenue from marijuana sales to focus on youth programs can potentially stem from the growing belief among adolescents that using marijuana is not as risky as using other substances. This, coupled with the rising popularity of vaping, has resulted in a renewed focus on youth and smoking.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that as alcohol and cigarette use among adolescents has decreased over the past 10 years, marijuana use has increased. Communities witnessing this trend locally should research available grant programs to address the repercussions.

A Closer Look

Below is a closer look at states that use revenue from marijuana sales to implement youth programs:

  • Colorado: In 2012, Colorado mandated an excise tax. Out of this revenue, $40 million would be reserved for school construction. In 2018, the remainder of the revenue collected went into the state public school fund. Additionally, Colorado allocated, for the 2020-2021 cohort, $9 million in funding to the competitive School Health Professional Grant (SHPG). Funding through this program aims to increase the presence of school health professionals in K-12 schools where they provide substance abuse or other behavioral health needs. Funding also covers training and resources for these professionals.
  • Illinois: In 2019, Illinois signed into law the legalized purchase and use of cannabis. In conjunction, the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program was also implemented. This program funds grants for violence prevention, reentry, youth development, economic development and civil legal aid services in areas of the state impacted by violence and economic disinvestment.
  • Alaska: A result of the 2017-2018 legislative session, Alaska established the Positive Youth Development Afterschool Program in an effort to build protective factors, like relationship-level connectedness and community and societal level, related to substance misuse. The aim of this grant program is to offer structured after school activities.
  • California: Proposition 64 established a portion of tax revenue to be designated as grants “to local governments to assist with law enforcement, fire protection, or other local programs addressing public health and safety (Rev. & Tax Code, 34019, subd. (f)(3)C).” One area of focus in the Proposition 64 Public Health and Safety Grant Program is the Youth Development/Youth Prevention and Intervention purpose area. Funding under the youth prevention and intervention focus aim to address preventing substance use and minimizing illness or harm associated with substance abuse.

Prepare for Funding

Follow these steps when looking to fund a youth program:

  • Know who funds the programs. Become familiar with the state’s funding agencies and which agency will be responsible for administering the grant program.
  • Address registration requirements. Many states require a registration along with their own state registrations. For instance, Illinois requires GATA registration.
  • Collect data now. Most grant applications require the applicant to present the need for their program in the narrative section. A need can be demonstrated with the use of local data. For instance, is there an increase in marijuana use among local adolescents?
  • Collaborate with local stakeholders or partners. Before applying, make note of any local organizations, agencies, or nonprofits that can assist with implementing the program and schedule time to discuss a plan for applying.

Once you identify a potential grant program, these steps will help prepare you for the final application submission.

The team at PoliceGrantsHelp is always ready to help. Our grant assistance program includes a number of options including grant research, grant writing and grant application review.