5 States (And One City) Ready to Legalize Marijuana

Source: David McNew/Getty Images

David McNew/Getty Images

It’s an interesting time to stand on the sidelines and watch marijuana legalization efforts take over the country. Colorado and Washington both jumped the gun and passed initiatives to decriminalize and legalize cannabis by popular vote in 2012, and since then have both opened the first legal marijuana markets in the U.S. Legal retail sales began this year, and so far things have settled into place, and the novelty has started to wear off to some degree.

But many other states are following Washington and Colorado’s path, getting closer and closer to legalization every election cycle. So far, legalization advocates have had to rely on voter-backed initiatives to get legislation passed, as the federal government seems as though it still won’t budge on reclassifying cannabis out of its current schedule -1 status. Local governments across the country have taken baby steps towards ending prohibition, with many cities passing ordinances that either have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana or marked them as a lowest priority for law enforcement officials.

Many people are still struggling with the concept of legalized marijuana. For decades and generations, Americans grew accustomed to knowing marijuana as a powerful and dangerous drug — one that could lead to deaths and criminal behavior if it was allowed in their community. The past decade has really opened up a lot of people’s eyes to the facts, which almost wholly dismiss those worries. The medical marijuana communities in several states have also shown the immense benefits cannabis can have for the sick, which is one of many factors that have led to a seismic shift in public opinion regarding marijuana legalization.

As time marches forward, more states are preparing for coming marijuana legalization initiatives, either derived from state legislators or from citizens themselves. A few states have gotten close in the past, but so far only Colorado and Washington have been able to pull through. That doesn’t mean that several others aren’t on the cusp, however.

Here are six states that are the closest to legalizing marijuana for recreational use in the near future, hot on the heels of Washington and Colorado.