Colorado Ready to Begin Selling Recreational Marijuana
Colorado has generated so much money from recreational pot taxes the state is obliged to give a slice of $50m created in taxes

Residents of Colorado could receive an unexpected bonus thanks to the state's $50m marijuana tax windfall.

Marijuana was legalised in 2012 and voters were told the 15% excise tax on marijuana would go towards schools and another 10% sales tax would be given to lawmakers to spend.

But the 'pot tax' has triggered a clause in the state constitution, which limits the amount of money a tax can accrue. A portion of the revenue must now be returned to residents as a rebate.

The issue has become a conundrum for both Republicans and Democrats, who are against putting marijuana taxes back into people's pockets.

Three years ago, Coloradans voted to plough the revenue from the marijuana tax back into education and training for police, to identify drivers under the influence of drugs. Politicians believe this wish should now be granted.

"I think it's appropriate that we keep the money for marijuana that the voters said that we should," said Republican Senate President Bill Cadman.

"This is a little bit of a different animal. There's a struggle on this one," said Cadman's fellow Republican Senator Kevin Grantham.

Democrat senate Pat Steadman said: "It's absurd."

Marijuana taxes in Colorado were expected to rake in $70m (£46m) in the first year, but the state believes it will in fact be around $50m (£33m).

According to Nerdwallet, California could gain the most from taxes on sales of marijuana. The state stands to take in $519,287,052, which almost covers the 2013 budget for the California Department of Parks and Recreation.