Inside the grow operation of Options Medical.

(Photo: CPR/Irvin Coffee)
The Colorado Senate on Friday advanced a bill  that delves into uncharted territory for a state government:  how to spend the millions of dollars in taxes from the legal retail sale of marijuana.

The proposal sets up a process to spend the more than $24 million raised on taxes from retail marijuana this year.

"We’re trying to set a good example in our regulatory environment and in how we budget and spend those tax proceeds," Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), the bill’s sponsor, says. 

If approved, the measure would fund regulatory agencies, law enforcement and a variety of drug education, prevention and treatment programs.

Critics of marijuana legalization say the bill only gives the drug more state-sanctioned support.

The federal government is reluctantly allowing Colorado to collect retail tax on marijuana and could intervene if not strictly controlled.

The bill needs one more Senate vote before moving to the state House.