Homeless Worker
Homeless Worker

Dark Weed : Colorado’s Homeless Marijuana Migrants

Not All Things In The Weed Tidal Wave Are Good

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Friday Jun 24, 2016

Colorado’s Marijuana Migrants


While everyone discusses the benefits of Colorado’s budding marijuana industries, people have forgotten about the invisible minority: the homeless people who flock to the Centennial state with the hopes of a new life.


People are flocking to Colorado like it’s where you’ll find the pot of gold. From tourists to ganjapreneurs and investors, Colorado is where it’s at. But behind all that purple haze, the state has had to deal with some side effects of the thriving marijuana industries: the rise in homeless people, marijuana migrants who move to the state to find jobs and get a piece of the cannabis pie yet end up homeless.


Some of them aren’t able to secure a job, as they might have a felony that disqualifies them from employment so they end up homeless. But those who are able to find work can still end up homeless because they don’t earn enough yet to buy a house or pay for rent in Denver which is notorious for its expensive real estate.


Around several hundred poverty-stricken homeless migrants arrive in Colorado every month.


While some of them come to find jobs with marijuana businesses and dispensaries, others come to be able to use pot either recreationally without having to face the worry of getting arrested. Currently there are still no state numbers available to quantify how many homeless people the legal marijuana industry is luring into state each month, homeless centers are full and are becoming less capable of meeting the demands of the rising population.


Both marijuana dispensaries and the state’s homeless people are significantly more concentrated in Denver, which could be a reason why Denver is experiencing more of an influx compared to surrounding counties. The county of Pueblo, located on the souther plains of Colorado, is also experiencing a significant increase in homeless people. But unlike Denver, Pueblo enjoys the reputation of being one of the USA’s least expensive cities. During the 70’s and 80’s, Pueblo was the site of a booming steel economy, and was a company town that the employees of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company called home. During the crash of the steel market of 1982, the city was devastated and Pueblo never really recovered.




Marijuana Tax Used To Help The Homeless


Last May 2 cities in Colorado declared that they will be using marijuana taxes as a way of helping the homeless. Pueblo County Commissioners approve the use of marijuana funds to help the town’s growing homeless population. The Pueblo Area Law Enforcement Chaplain’s Corporation was awarded a $25,000 grant to give the homeless vouchers for motels as well as bus tickets so that they could go back to where they came from. The grant money was funded by fines paid by licensed cannabusinesses.


According to John Bobian, an employee of the Pueblo Rescue Mission who is a former homeless man himself: “With the funding, that’s the way for them to get home because a lot of people want to go home.” Bobian used to live on Pueblo’s streets until he found a job with the rescue mission. He added, “It’s something that we can really use because you know a lot of these people here don’t have a way for transportation to go anywhere.”


In Pueblo it is estimated that there are around 11,000 homeless people. According to Commissioner Terry Hart, the grant was the ideal solution to support the city as well as the homeless. “This isn’t just an effort to shift folks out of town”, he says; “It’s trying to get folks back to where they can recover with their family and get their feet back on the ground.”


With the grant, Pueblo city hopes that the homeless can use this opportunity to go home and have a fresh start. Thanks to a special deal with Greyhound buses, the program can send anyone anywhere in the country for a discounted price.


Colorado’s 3 rd largest city, Aurora, also said that they will be using $1.5 million in tax income to help the homeless. $200,000 from the fund is allocated for the Colfax Community Network, a non-profit that helps impoverished families who live in motels. The city council said that they would be monitoring the progress of Colfax before deciding if they will be replenishing the funds next year.


Two other groups, the Comitis Crisis Center as well as the Aurora Mental Health, will also be receiving vans for outreach programs costing around $30,000 to $44,000.




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