Where Is Marijuana Legal in the United States? List of Recreational and Medicinal States


On Nov. 8, 2016, voters in nine states decided whether or not to legalize marijuana. Five of those states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada — saw ballot initiatives to legalize weed for recreational purposes. Voters in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota decided whether to legalize medical cannabis. Montana voted on expanding medical marijuana rights.

As the election results rolled in, Florida was the first to officially announce it had legalized medical marijuana. North Dakota and Arkansas followed. 

California and Massachusetts were the first of the states considering recreational pot to legalize it. Nevada soon followed.

Voters in Arizona ultimately rejected their state's bid to legalize recreational marijuana. As of Wednesday, Nov. 10, Maine was on course to pass legal weed, however it wasn't yet official

In mid-April, Pennsylvania passed legislation to legalize medical marijuana, bringing the total number of states (plus Washington, D.C.) with some form of legal pot to 24. The majority of those states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, however recreational marijuana use is fully leg al in AlaskaColoradoOregonWashington and the District of Columbia.

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Here are states with legal recreational marijuana: 

1. Alaska

2. California

3. Colorado

4. Oregon 

5. Massachusetts

6. Nevada

7. Washington 

Here are states with medical marijuana: 

1. Alaska

2. Arizona

3. Arkansas

4. California

5. Colorado

6. Connecticut

7. Delaware

8. Florida

9. Hawaii

10. Illinois

11. Maine

12. Maryland

13. Massachusetts 

14. Michigan

15. Minnesota

16. Montana

17. Nevada

18. New Hampshire

19. New Jersey

20. New Mexico

21. New York

22. North Dakota

23. Oregon 

24. Pennsylvania 

25. Rhode Island

26. Vermont

27. Washington 

Ahead of the election, marijuana advocates believed there was a chance for at least 11 more states to legalize recreational marijuana in the near term.

In February, the District of Columbia decriminalized recreational marijuana, making it legal for residents to carry up to two ounces of cannabis and own six plants. However, it's still illegal to purchase pot in the District, WTTG reports.

The exorbitant cost of incarceration is one factor causing states to decriminalize cannabis, President Barack Obama said in a March interview with Vice News.

"It costs a huge amount of money to states," Obama said, speaking to Vice's Shane Smith. "What I'm encouraged by is you're started to see not just liberal democrats but also some very conservative Republicans recognize that this doesn't make sense, including the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. They see the money and how costly it is to incarcerate.

"At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, Congress may then reschedule marijuana." 

The legalization of recreational marijuana gives rise to a whole new economy surrounding the sale of cannabis, oils, lotions, edibles and paraphernalia. Advertising efforts are starting to crop up to support these industries, though marijuana marketing is highly regulated state by state, according to Ad Exchanger. However, those states that are blazing trails in the cannabis market are beginning to see tax revenues soar as a result.

Gosia Wozniacka/AP
Gosia Wozniacka/AP
Ted S. Warren/AP

During the last fiscal year, which ended late June, marijuana-specific tax revenue in Colorado hit $70 million, Time reports. That's nearly twice what the state raked in from alcohol tax revenue during that same time.

In the United States, sales of legal marijuana hit $2.7 billion last year, up from $1.5 billion in 2013, according to cannabis investment and research firm ArcView Group. If full legalization were to occur in all 50 states and D.C., the U.S. marijuana retail market could top $35 billion in revenue by 2020, according to estimates from independent research firm GreenWave Advisers. That's a lot of green. 

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Nov. 10, 2016, 12:15 p.m. EDT: This story has been updated.