The news: If it feels like the country is inching toward legalizing pot nationwide, there's good reason. With every passing day, a new marijuana decriminalization or legalization bill is introduced in the U.S., with both high-profile national politicians and state lawmakers coming out in favor. Public opinion is also increasingly behind the move, as recent polling indicates that around 58% of Americans support pot legalization.
Of course, that does not mean 58% of people in every state feel the same way. Despite encouraging news coming out of Colorado, there are sections of the country that still hold conservative views toward marijuana legalization. That's why the move is likely to continue taking place on a state-by-state basis, rather than on a federal level.
If you're having a hard time tracking which states are in favor of legalizing pot, check out this handy map from pro-legalization site Just Say Now:
Dark green: States where voters approved marijuana legalization initiatives
Medium green: States where at least one public non-partisan poll found a majority of adults and/or voters support marijuana legalization
Light green: States where at least one poll commissioned by pro-drug reform found majority support for legalization, but there are no independent polls confirming the finding.
What does this mean? As you can see, there is a significant section of the country that does not have a pro-legalization majority (although some of these states also didn't have relevant polling data available). But most of the Southwest and the Northeast seem solidly in favor of legalizing pot, and these are the states that are most likely to pass measures next.
Still, there is a substantive gap between public opinion and legislative action. While the map above may be encouraging to pro-legalization activists, there is a long way to go before these green states actually introduce and pass legalization laws. For a more measured view, here is a map from CNN that illustrates which states have already passed marijuana laws, whether for recreation or medical use:
The two states in yellow — Alaska and Florida — already have legalization initiatives on the ballot. Recent polling suggests that both states have the majority to pass the measures. These are the likely candidates to follow Colorado and Washington's grand experiment, though other states might follow soon afterward.