MRCC

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Cannabis could fund after-school programs!

There are 196,562 Massachusetts students enrolled in after-school programs, 213,966 who are unsupervised during school hours, and 362,312 — or 44 percent of all students — would sign up for a program if they had the option, the report said. Citing the Department of Early Education and Care, the council said 7,900 low-income kids over age 5 are eligible for expanded learning services and currently waiting for care.

Crighton said after-school programs are an “economic empowerment” issue as well as an education one, because parents who don’t have family and friends who can watch their kids at the end of the day may end up limiting their work hours and career opportunities. He said he worked at an after-school program in Lynn while in high school and college, and waitlists were “huge” then.

“The way the system is currently laid out, they simply can’t serve the kids,” Crighton said. “There’s a real need, particularly in cities like Lynn, but also in more rural areas where transportation is a real issue.”

The council recommends that state and local taxes on non-medical marijuana sales “should form the basis of a new funding stream,” and makes the case that after-school programs can “act as prevention programs,” with students who participate having lower rates of drug misuse than their peers.

Alaska and California are linking revenue from legalized marijuana sales to after-school and out-of-school programming, according to the report, which recommended Massachusetts follow suit and “specifically funnel the revenue to programs that focus on promoting social and emotional competencies and learning.”

Benson said she came up with the idea of turning to marijuana revenue, and that she was “pretty adamant” about including it in the report.