A year after the first recreational pot shops opened in Colorado, “the sky is not falling,” says Greg Goldston, owner of Options Medical Center in Boulder, a top local seller of recreational marijuana. It’s a popular sentiment among legalization proponents in the state. The Christian Science Monitor says most Coloradans say they don't notice much difference between the commercialized medical system in place since 2009 and the new legalized recreational system. There's also a wide range of opinions about how successful the first foray into full marijuana legalization has been. Actual data are still sparse, and will continue to be for several years.
Both Colorado and Washington, the other state to begin legal recreational sales last year, are under scrutiny as other states join them. Some 23 states have legal medical marijuana in place, and last November, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia voted to legalize pot. Legalization advocates say that 2016 is likely to be the next big year, when Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada (at a minimum) could all vote. A majority of Americans support legalization, although the 51 percent who told Gallup they supported it last fall is down from the 58 percent who supported it a year ago. The U.S. is experiencing a sea change in how it sees marijuana, and many observers see federal legalization as likely 10 or 15 years down the road.