Tax dollars like this are funding mental health clinics. (Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file)

Colorado keeps cannabis tax promise, funding two new mental health clinics

Colorado’s Office of Behavioral Health announced this week that Frisco and Montrose will both receive funding for new mental health facilities serving the Western Slope.

A senate bill signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in May set aside millions in marijuana tax dollars for upgrades to Colorado’s mental health system and to help curtail the use of jails to house those in crisis who have not been charged with a crime. The deficiency in rural facilities was specifically targeted in the bill, which set aside nearly $2 million over two years to expand services.

All of that money was initially earmarked for an eight-bed crisis-stabilization unit and its operation in Montrose, but through maneuvering and negotiations Summit County will now receive half that bankroll. By as early as next spring, Frisco’s Medical Office Building will be the site of a four-to-six-bed walk-in crisis unit, and Montrose will build a four-bed unit of its own at a location already under construction.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Sarah Vaine, assistant county manager in Summit. “There’s a broad continuum of care and a lot of services needed. I don’t know that there’s a community across the country that has every element of that continuum in place, but any of the steps of care that we get here, the more the better.”

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