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The US state of Nevada has put nearly $1.8 million earned from cannabis sales towards helping the homeless.
In November 2016 Nevada voters passed the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, meaning adults aged 21 and older could legally purchase, possess, and consume recreational marijuana.
It is only legal to buy the drug from a state-licensed store or dispensary and it cannot be used in public places or in moving vehicles, but still the legalisation of cannabis created a huge influx of money for the US state.
According to ABC News affiliate KTNV, Clark County commissioners originally voted in January to direct money collected as part of the marijuana business license fees to the fight against homelessness.
Last week, they voted unanimously to give nearly $1.8 million to creating new housing opportunities for the homeless and people suffering from medical problems.
The money will go to Help Of Southern Nevada as well as to a rapid rehousing program.
Speaking to Fox5 Las Vegas, Fuilala Riley, HELP’s president, said:
This is going to allow us to open a lot sooner than we anticipated. We’re going to bring on the appropriate staff to oversee the youth that live here with us, and the appropriate staff to case manage.
The HELP organisation, which provides emergency housing and services to teens and young adults who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, will receive nearly $856,000 to add 76 beds at the Shannon West Homeless Youth Center.
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, county Social Service Director Michael Pawlak spoke about the funding, saying:
That’s a major, major, significant impact in this community.
As well as giving money to help the homeless, the county will give $931,000 to expand a rapid rehousing partnership. The money will provide 60 new beds for individuals with serious medical problems who have recently been discharged from hospitals.
Following the vote, commissioners reportedly said it was the first sign of the county using the legal marijuana industry to support homelessness services and addressing a pervasive problem, though they acknowledged there is still a lot of work left to do.
Speaking of the benefits the money will offer, Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick added:
[T]hese small steps will make a huge difference in somebody’s life tomorrow.
I’m sure Nevada made a lot of people happy when they decided to legalise weed, but it’s great that they’re also doing positive things with the money earned from the industry!
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