Which States Have Legalized Marijuana?

Which States Have Legalized Marijuana?

In 2012, Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. They were the first two states to do so.

Since then, many states have followed suit. Eight more states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, “although Vermont and D.C., while allowing marijuana possession and growing, have continued to bar sales for recreational purposes” (via Vox).

While all 50 states haven’t legalized marijuana, our friends up north (Canada) have legalized weed throughout the entire country.

If all 50 states haven’t legalized marijuana, which states have? What about the states that haven’t legalized marijuana from a recreational standpoint but have medical laws in effect?

To answer that question in further detail, we will list off the first five states that legalized weed and the states that have followed the lead since then.

The first five

Colorado and Washington set the trend

As stated earlier, Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize marijuana in recreational terms, and they did so in 2012.

Alaska and Oregon

Alaska was the third state to legalize recreational pot use in 2014, and Oregon wasn’t too far behind. Not only is primary healthcare in Milwaukie, OR, provided, but Oregon legalized marijuana in 2014 beyond medical purposes.


California legalized in 2016, which means you no longer need a marijuana license in California to purchase weed. However, medical marijuana licenses are still available, which is the presumed notion of every state that has legalized pot recreationally.

It’s always best to check with local and state marijuana laws if you’re concerned about your rights and what the laws actually are. After all, states might be legalizing marijuana, but it’s still illegal under federal law.

The next batch


Maine legalized in 2016.

Massachusetts and Nevada

As did Massachusetts and Nevada.

Vermont and Michigan

Vermont was the next state to make weed recreationally legal and the state didn’t do so until 2018. Michigan also legalized in 2018.

Although not a state, the District of Columbia legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2014, “But any further hopes to legalize, regulate and tax the retail sale of marijuana have been stymied by Congress, which has blocked D.C. from taking any steps to further loosen its pot laws” (via WAMU).

While only 10 states (plus D.C.) have made marijuana recreationally legal, 23 states have jumped onboard with medical marijuana:













New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Dakota




Rhode Island


West Virginia

The state of marijuana: who’s next?

According to Civilized, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Minnesota are the most likely states to legalize recreational marijuana use next.

When it comes to the state of weed and more states legalizing recreational use, we turn our attention to The Motley Fool (article linked earlier):

“One big factor driving this trend is that states need additional revenue. Just as most states legalized lotteries to generate revenue, many states could find legalizing marijuana as a way to boost their revenue without making unpopular moves such as raising income or sales taxes.”

Could U.S. federal laws be changed to ease restrictions against the use and sale of marijuana? It’s not out of the question. President Trump signaled his support earlier this year for efforts led by Sen. Cory Gardner (R.-Colo.) to pass legislation to allow state marijuana laws to effectively supersede federal laws.”

With 62 percent of Americans saying the use of recreational weed should be legalized, it’s only a matter of time before more states legalize weed recreationally.