Colorado’s cannabis industry has now helped give $420,000 in scholarships to 210 Pueblo County high school graduates. On June 20, the high school seniors each received $2,000 in cannabis tax-funded grants from the Pueblo County Scholarship Fund and the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative.
Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace told the Pueblo Chieftan that the dollar amount was a mere coincidence, not a reference to ’420’ cannabis slang. In February, estimates put the projected amount at $425,000.
The program is believed to be the first academic scholarship in the world to be funded by cannabis tax.
County officials on Tuesday threw an event in front of the Pueblo County Courthouse to recognize the scholarship recipients. Of the 210 recipients, 143 were in attendance to receive certificates and recognition in front of a crowd of about 300 people.
Jeanette Garcia, a member of the Colorado Commission for Higher Education, told the Chieftain that 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,” she said.
All graduating high school students from the county are automatically eligible for the scholarship, provided they attend either Pueblo Community College or Colorado State University-Pueblo, the latter of which recently established an Institute of Cannabis Research.
Last year, when the program began, 23 students received scholarships.
“Last year was a pilot, and we started it early because we had the COSI funds available that we weren’t expecting,” Pace told the Chieftan. “This year was the first full-blown year of the scholarship program.”
Beverly Duran, executive director of the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation, said that every student who applied and met the qualifications received a scholarship.