While 25 states have already legalized the use of marijuana in some form, there are now 8 states that specifically permit the recreational use and sale of cannabis. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington paved the way before Election Day, and subsequently on November 8, 2016 California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined the ranks when they too voted in favor of the bill that would make marijuana legal across the board.

So if you reside in one of the above mentioned states, you may be wondering when you will have the opportunity to walk into a store to buy cannabis. The answer may not be as simple or near as you were expecting to hear, however our hope is that this article will enlighten you to some sound alternatives in the interim.

Though the specific time frame will vary by state, January 1, 2018 will most likely mark the new era when you can begin to purchase recreational marijuana at a storefront dispensary. This is due to the fact that there are a variety of rules, regulations and red-tape to tackle first. In other words, new government regulations take time to implement. As you might expect, certain cities that are already comprised of robust medical marijuana businesses - such as San Francisco, Boulder, Seattle, Anchorage and Boston - might witness these stores pop up sooner than others. But the fact of the matter is that the deadline for these legalized states to begin issuing licenses to those prospective pot shops is January 1, 2018. So, mark your calendars because recreational marijuana is quickly coming to a city near you.

Luckily there are still a few ways for you to legally acquire marijuana. They are as follows:

1) You Can Grow It

Yes, anyone 21 years old and over can now possess and legally grow marijuana, and no medical license is required to do so. One household may grow up to six plants at a time, and this number does not fluctuate in spite of the number of individuals residing within the home. Regulations state that home cultivation of marijuana plants be fully enclosed and secured. You can therefore accomplish this either by growing the plants indoors or in a greenhouse set up in a remote location in the exterior of your residence.

2) You Can Obtain Your Medical Card

As previously stated, the Bureau for Medical Cannabis Regulation, which will soon be renamed the Bureau of Marijuana Control, will not be issuing licenses to marijuana businesses until the first of the year. Though this is the latest possible date, you might want to consider arming yourself with a physician's recommendation for medical cannabis. By obtaining your medical card, which are fairly easy to acquire, you will be able to immediately access marijuana dispensaries and grow as much medical cannabis as you need for your health condition.

To get started, you will need to schedule an appointment with your primary doctor. During your meeting, you can explain to your doctor how medical marijuana would be beneficial to your physical and/or mental health, as well as the relief you will experience as a result. Alternatively, there are medical marijuana doctor evaluation centers that offer both online and in-person assessments. Known to many as cannabis specialists, he or she will ask you a series of questions that will help accurately describe your concerns, conditions and medical history. Ultimately, your primary doctor or the evaluation center will decide whether you qualify as a medical patient.

3) You Can be Gifted With Marijuana

Unless you are a medical marijuana patient, it is currently illegal to purchase marijuana. This also means that if you aren't a medical dispensary, you are not allowed to sell cannabis. So this would be the time to get chummy with those who purchase marijuana medicinally, grow it themselves or know people who grow, as they are allowed to share their goods with you.

With that being said, it is important to note that weed cannot be smoked or ingested in public. Nor can anyone under any circumstances drive a vehicle while under the influence. While the location for consumption may change and vary based on the area, the safest thing to do for now is to enjoy your cannabis from the comfort of your home.

January 2018 may feel light-years away, but there are fortunately other effective paths that will lead to your mental, physical and spiritual relief. To find a medical marijuana provider near you, simply visit the "Select the Provider" option on our homepage and enter your city or zip code to view a list of local providers who can help you get started on the road to better health.