PUEBLO, Colo. - The sale of retail marijuana in Pueblo will now help combat the illegal use of opioids.
"We have an opioid addiction problem," said Dr. Margaret Redmond, executive director of the Pueblo Human Relations Commission.
The commission is getting $41,000 from sales tax revenue generated by the retail sale of marijuana for its opioid epidemic assistance program.
"That's what we've been able to do. We would be opening up a needle exchange expansion in the next couple of weeks," Redmond said.
The money for this program and others was put on hold by the county commissioners because of a lawsuit going on in Adams County.
But because of House Bill 1203, which will allow local governments to decide if they want to collect sales tax on retail marijuana, county Commissioner Sal Pace says he doesn't believe that lawsuit is relevant anymore.
"The law clearly explains that counties can collect in unincorporated area. We can collect in incorporated areas," Pace said.
Pace said the passage of this bill was the No. 1 priority because of the millions of dollars already collected.
"Not only did it impact the million plus dollars we have in our budget this year. But hypothetically, it could have impacted the millions of dollars we've collected since adult use cannabis was made legal," Pace said.
Redmond said without this funding, the Pueblo Human Relations Commission couldn't provide the services it does.
"Had we not gotten this money from the county we probably would not have been able to be in a position to go for state and federal funding come the first of July," Redmond said.
Other groups getting the money include the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office for use in the jail.
The bill also will allow the partnership that Pueblo County and the city have made to collect sales tax on retail marijuana in the city, even though voters said no to a ballot question on that in November.