When the clock hits midnight tonight in Colorado, legal marijuana sales will finally begin, kicking off what's expected to be a banner year for legalized marijuana. Colorado has created the first system in the world to legally grow and sell marijuana to adults, with Washington state and Uruguay not far behind. Colorado's system still faces a number of legal roadblocks: The Denver airport has already banned the substance, as have ski resorts, and it's unclear whether sellers will be able to keep their money in banks. Washington is still struggling with basic questions for retail, taxes, and advertisements, but the state is currently ironing out the kinks, and marijuana stores should open for business within several months.
The medical marijuana movement is also expected to triumph in the new year. Florida's medical marijuana ballot initiative—currently still at the signature stage—has overwhelming support throughout the state. 2014 will also bring legal medical marijuana to Illinois citizens. Meanwhile, California—the first state to legalize medical marijuana—looks poised to become the third state to fully legalize the substance for adults over age 21.
Behind all these developments, of course, remains the lurking menace of the federal government, which still bans all forms of marijuana, medical or not. A bipartisan bill legalizing marijuana for adults—sponsored by Colorado Democratic Congressman Jared Polis—is currently languishing in committee, and it stands little chance of passing. Still, the Department of Justice has vowed to monitor but not block Washington and Colorado's bold experiment.