The Next 9 States to Legalize Marijuana

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The United States is slowly reversing course on banning marijuana. Colorado led the way in passing laws that allow recreational use of marijuana and cannabis products, and now the opening of stores to sell marijuana for recreational use in Washington state has begun. If history over the last century or so dictates anything, it is that new laws passing (or old ones being overturned) are rarely isolated events in only one or two states.

24/7 Wall St. has decided to feature nine states that could be the next to pass laws allowing marijuana to be sold — and taxed — for recreational use. Recreational marijuana use may not be legalized nationwide any time soon, but it looks almost certain that there will be more than just two states in this burgeoning industry of recreational marijuana — and sooner rather than later.

In order to be counted as likely to be among the next states to legalize marijuana use, a state has to have several things already in place. First is that referendums and opinion polls are not good enough. Several states have had bills passed at one legislative level only to fail at others. Each state in question must already allow for the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Another condition is that each state has to be further along than just grassroots efforts fighting for legalization.

Some states are not even just neutral or lenient on marijuana. Individuals can be sentenced to jail time on top of fines for possessing even the smallest amounts of marijuana solely for personal use. The long and short of the matter is that Kansas, Texas, Utah and many others are unlikely to be statewide legal pot destinations any time soon, even if grassroots efforts are underway.

A 2013 Gallup poll showed that 58% of Americans now favor legalization. This was first time that a majority polled has been in favor of legalization in close to 50 years. As of July, two states now allow marijuana use for recreation, but 23 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana.

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After considering this among many other socially changing initiatives seen in recent years, it looks likely that the efforts and trends toward legalization and further decriminalization will potentially be a battleground in the 2016 elections — and in the 2014 mid-term elections.

Before naming states outright here, several caveats should be considered. First is that this not even close to normal in politics — passage of many expected laws have been kicked down the road. There is also not a single up-to-the-minute source that seems to be 100% accurate on how far along every single state is. That being said, information was taken from local news reports and legislatures, as well as from sources such as ProCon.org, NORML.org, Mother Jones, the Marijuana Policy Project and other sites.

Maine could have been included on our list, but the issue remains on a local jurisdiction level and seems more subjective than in other states. We have listed these states alphabetically because of the process inside each state to legalize and decriminalize marijuana faces so many hurdles. What seems sure to be adopted can find itself suddenly blocked for one or any of too many reasons to easily count.

We have included the population of each state, as well as the 2013 Census recording of general sales and gross receipts taxes – excluding corporate, income tax, and documentation taxes. These are the next states likely to go further long in the legalization and decriminalization efforts beyond just medical marijuana use.