HB14-1209, to be heard later this week by the Colorado House Committee on Health, Insurance, & Environment, seeks to give funds from the special marijuana sales tax and give it to law enforcement in surrounding states. This bill, titled Marijuana Diversion Prevention Grant Program, is sponsored by Rep. Amy Stephens (R) of ultra-conservative El Paso County, along with seven additional Republican Representatives: Coram, Landgraf, McNulty, Navarro, Priola, Waller and Wilson.
The bill permits the general assembly to appropriate surplus funds in the marijuana cash fund to the marijuana diversion prevention grant program. The bill creates the marijuana diversion prevention grant program (grant program) that is administered by the state controller. The grant program will provide grants to the state patrol and other state law enforcement agencies that share a border with Colorado to prevent diversion of retail marijuana from Colorado and apprehend those attempting to divert retail marijuana from Colorado. The grant program includes a grant review committee consisting of:
- The state controller;
- The executive director of the department of public safety, or his or her designee;
- The executive director of the statewide organization representing sheriffs, or his or her designee; and
- The executive director of the statewide organization representing the chiefs of police, or his or her designee.
In a fiscal year in which the general assembly appropriates money to the grant program, a law enforcement agency seeking a grant must apply by August 1. The application must include a description of how the money will be used, a description of law enforcement cooperation in using the money, and the amount requested itemized by personnel costs, equipment costs, and other costs, plus any other information required. The grant review committee shall award grants based on need and effectiveness. The Colorado state patrol must receive priority in receiving grants.
This is a pretty outrageous move when we have so much need in our own state. Do we really expect such an enormous windfall that we can afford to throw money at surrounding states for law enforcement? And I have to wonder how much asset forfeiture might play into this.
The funds should go to schools and our own citizens first. Wyoming can pay us for all the fireworks that have come into Colorado while their law enforcement looked the other way, along with the corresponding damage. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas can pay us for all the Mexican brick and hard drugs moving through their states to reach Colorado for all these years.
Perhaps if the money was dedicated to assuring that prisoners are given proper treatment and care, I might consider it. We don’t want money going to enable more of what happened in Goodland, KS last month. A woman with MS died in custody after being arrested for possessing a small amount of marijuana when returning home to Kansas City from Colorado.
KC woman dies in western Kansas jail
This is political posturing for the prohibitionists. I’m sure this won’t be the first of such bills we’ll see.
In the meantime, feel free to contact Rep. Stephens and let her and her cohorts know that Colorado marijuana tax revenue should stay in Colorado to benefit the people of Colorado.
Rep. Stephens can be reached at: