Scholarship recipients line up to be acknowledged during a June 20 ceremony at the Pueblo County Courthouse. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

Using marijuana sales for scholarships may seem odd to some, but “it’s time to get over it”

Via The Associated Press. The following editorial was published in The Pueblo Chieftain, June 27, 2017:

We have to admit, it was a fun photo.

Dozens of recent high school graduates — and a few who have finished some college — standing on the steps of the Pueblo County Courthouse recently, waiting to receive their $2,000 scholarships.

And other photos of students posing with their parents likewise were fun.

We also have to admit that while the photos and the story about 210 Pueblo students receiving the scholarships were pleasing, we remain a bit unnerved by the source of the funding.

The students received the two $1,000 scholarships — one for each school year semester — from Pueblo County’s marijuana excise tax. In all, $420,000 from pot taxes went to the students.

It still seems odd to us that marijuana is helping fund college educations, but the reality is, it’s time to get over it. If legal retail marijuana is here to stay, and that seems to be the case, then proceeds from it might as well be used for good purposes.

And helping young men and women with their high college expenses certainly is a good cause.

We admit to being old-fashioned about the entire marijuana issue, but several of the scholarship recipients who were interviewed by The Chieftain were not in the least bit bothered by any real or perceived stigma attached to the funding source.

“It’s going to something good. If it wasn’t going to something good, then maybe it would be a problem,” one student told our reporter.

Jeanette Garcia, a member of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, said she was extremely proud of the students.

“Congratulations to our scholarship recipients, especially to the city and county of Pueblo for having the vision to invest in our own citizens,” Garcia said.

By the way, the number of awards was significantly higher this year than last, when 23 students received scholarships in the first year that the program was offered.

The Pueblo County commissioners last year approved a partnership with the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation to administer the Pueblo County Scholarship Fund using pot excise tax dollars to match state funding from the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative.

Beverly Duran, executive director of the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation, said that every student who applied and met the qualifications of graduating from a high school in Pueblo County and planning on attending either Colorado State University-Pueblo or Pueblo Community College received a scholarship.

Nineteen of the 23 students who received scholarships last year were awarded again this year.

We are thrilled that so many scholarships were offered, regardless of the source. And we salute the county commissioners for coming up with this idea.

Information from The Pubelo Chieftan