Yes, some marijuana tax revenue goes to Washington’s public education system

OSPI receives about $520,000 a year from marijuana tax revenues, but the taxes weren’t originally intended for education.

WASHINGTON, USA – There has been much debate in Washington over how the state should use taxpayer money it receives from marijuana purchases.

Washington state voters voted to legalize recreational marijuana a decade ago in 2012. According to the Washington State Treasurer, the state collected over $559 million in legal marijuana and royalty revenue in 2021.

Viewer Alice wrote to KING 5 asking whether or not tax revenue from the sale of marijuana in the state is used to fund education.


“The marijuana taxes should benefit the schools. Are the schools getting any money?”



Yes, Washington schools get some money from the marijuana tax revenue, but it’s only a small fraction of the funds. Additionally, marijuana taxes were never intended solely to fund the state education system.


The Office of Financial Management and OSPI said about $520,000 a year goes directly to OSPI from the state’s “dedicated marijuana account.”

Dixie Grunenfelder is Executive Director of Student Engagement and Support at OSPI. She said money funds a program called Building Bridges.

“(Funds will be) used to help schools develop comprehensive student support systems,” Grünenfelder said. “Identifying students who are at risk of dropping out of school, as well as students who have left school in order to reintegrate them into the education system.”

The rest of the money from the marijuana tax is distributed to a number of agencies, including the state’s general fund, which gives money to schools, but there’s no way of knowing how much and it has no direct connection to the marijuana -Tax income.

In 2021, the state reportedly collected more than $559 million in marijuana taxes. Of these, 0.09% of these funds went directly to OSPI.

“Of course we would all wish for more money, but I think we’re satisfied with the income we’re getting and will use it wisely,” said Grünenfelder.

So, was tax revenue from marijuana ever intended to go to schools?

The 502 Initiative, which voters adopted in 2012, says the initiative’s passage will “generate new state and local tax revenue for education, health care, research and substance abuse prevention.”

However, the word “education” does not specifically refer to schools.

The state’s Liquor and Cannabis Administration said tax revenue has always been primarily earmarked for public health, public awareness campaigns and research.

“Education” can refer to money for the Department of Health to conduct a public education campaign.

So yes, schools get some money from the marijuana tax, but it was never intended to fund schools.

Washington state legislatures can decide how marijuana proceeds are spent, so long as it meets the initiative’s original intent.

Right now, most of the money goes to helping the state fund health care costs for low-income families.

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