Homeless population drawn to Denver

Since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, people have been drawn to the state to seek the benefits that they get from marijuana without facing prosecution.

(Feature image courtesy of denverpost.com)

People use marijuana for many reasons that are more legitimate than simply to get high. Marijuana has been approved for the medical treatment of many conditions and diseases, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and has been welcomed as an organic substitute for medications whose side effects many people would rather avoid.

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“What do you think the state can/should do to protect its homeless population? Is it necessarily their job?” Nelson Hall October 2016 5:32 p.m. Natalie Niles Second Year Psych Major (photo by Julia Murray)

“I think providing housing options, especially in the winter, is important. I would say it’s the state’s responsibility since these people are already here I feel as though they’re already under the state. Maybe the funding could come from the tax money coming from marijuana sales,” says Niles, pictured left.

With the worth of Colorado’s legal pot industry swelling to one billion dollars, as according to fortune.com, this may not be such a bad idea.

The homeless population is concentrated in Denver which has more access than other parts of Colorado to shelters, hospitals, and soup kitchens, as well as more access to dispensaries.

With this, comes an inflation in population, around half a million people since 2008, and, consequently, homeless shelters have reported a 20-30% swell in newcomers, but with lack of funding, these shelters only have beds for about 1 percent of their inhabitants. (ibtimes.com)

People around the area share mixed feelings about their presence and what local government and law enforcement is doing to manage it.

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“The marijuana industry has thrived in Colorado providing millions in tax dollars, is it worth the influx of homeless?” Nelson Hall October 2016, 9:32 p.m. Maddy D’Aversa, Second Year International Studies Major (photo by Julia Murray)

“Yes, the homeless people aren’t causing us problems. I don’t think that the state can do much more than providing jobs and shelter, and even that would be hard. I don’t think too much tax money should be spent on this. I don’t think the homeless population is even buying from dispensaries since you can’t have an issued I.D. if you don’t have a home address. So, the taxes from that aren’t even coming from them,” said D’aversa, left.

The executive director of one of Denver’s shelters, the Saint Francis Center has reported seeing more than 300 new faces a month, and while he notes that although not all are marijuana users, many are here because of legal weed, and with the housing market in Denver thriving, affordable housing becomes less available for new lower income residents. (cbsnews.com)

Murray Flagg is a divisional social services secretary for the Salvation Army’s Intermountain Division who reported that, by an informal survey, they were able to conclude that about 25% of the shelter’s newcomers were there because of marijuana, and with the numbers of homeless continuing to grow, that percentage is intimidating.

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“As a resident of Denver what do you think of our homeless population?” Nelson Hall October 2016, 7:47 p.m. Joshua Cole Second Year Business Major (photo by Julia Murray)

“I definitely see them around on a lot of intersections. I wouldn’t say it’s as bad as it is in San Francisco, where I’m from,” stated Cole, pictured left.

The tie between legal marijuana and homelessness is one that is often disputed in Denver and can not accurately be tested by any state agency, therefore no records exist. However, shelters have reported the influx of residents to be straining their resources, which they attribute to the draw to the legal pot. (cbsnews.com)

 

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