Arrests for marijuana possession topped half a million in 2019, more than the number of arrests for any other drug abuse offense tracked by the FBI. That same year, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center found that 67% of Americans support marijuana legalization, up from just 16% three decades earlier.
Marijuana has been criminalized under federal law since 1937. But in states across the country, changing attitudes towards pot are increasingly reflected in new legislation that stands directly at odds with the federal prohibition.
24/7 Wall St. identified the 15 states where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized. We also reviewed annual state excise tax revenue as well as revenue estimates from marijuana sales from the tax policy research organization, the Tax Foundation. Estimates on annual marijuana usage rates are based on the results of a 2018 and 2019 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
In each of the states on this list, legalization has occurred within the last decade. The first states to fully end marijuana prohibition did so through 2012 ballot measures, and four states moved to legalize cannabis as recently as 2020. In most states, legalization has been the product of voter-sponsored ballot initiatives that received popular support on election day. Illinois, New Jersey, and Vermont are the only states where elected lawmakers have introduced and passed bills to repeal the drug’s prohibition.
The number of states where recreational marijuana use is legal will not likely remain at 15 for long. As the drug garners increasing mainstream acceptance legalization will likely be adopted by more state governments — even those that do not allow voter ballot initiatives. Here is a look at the next 9 states to legalize marijuana.
Nationwide, 16.7% of the 18 and older population have used marijuana in the past year. Usage rates in the states on this list tend to be higher than average.