- Colorado recently became the first state to open recreational pot stores.
- More than 55% of Americans say pot should be legalized nationwide, according to poll
- Meet six people who have smoked marijuana recreationally and want it legalized
(CNN)Lighting up a freshly packed pipe is just the kind of afternoon delight iReporter robcat20 likes after dealing with a stressful day at work as an insurance agent. Usually he'll put on a movie from Netflix while enjoying a good smoke from Stella, his pipe.
There's just one problem: Smoking marijuana is illegal in his state of Ohio.
Robcat20, who asked not to be identified by name because he fears being "labeled as a bad person" in his small town, says it's time that changed.
"I like weed, and I'm a good person," he wrote on CNN iReport. "I am a successful businessman, a loving father, devoted husband, registered Republican, active in my community with charities, church and I give piano lessons in the evenings to children with disabilities."
The 33-year-old is not the only one who wants pot prohibition laws amended. A recent CNN/ORC International survey indicated a growing appetite for cannabis, with more than 55% of people across the United States saying marijuana should be legalized. More than half the respondents said they have tried it themselves.
Ever since Colorado started selling pot legally at the start of this year, the lines to marijuana dispensaries haven't slowed down. Pot sales are blooming in Colorado now. Soon the state of Washington will be following suit, selling retail marijuana for recreational use. And on Wednesday, the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a preliminary vote to legalize up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use by anyone 21 or older.
CNN iReport asked readers if they would consider buying retail pot if it were available in their area. Setting aside arguments around the medical efficacy of marijuana, these iReporters shared their opinions on the recreational benefits of the herb -- some citing increased relaxation, creativity and a viable alternative to alcohol. No current marijuana users wanted their names used; recreational weed is still illegal in most of the country at the state and federal levels.
From college students to seasoned computer engineers, meet some of the people who want their cannabis hobby legalized:
People are 'missing out'
Twenty-year-old iReporter carcar1 started smoking pot to help her fall asleep at night. But marijuana is more than just a sleep remedy for her nowadays. The university student from Allentown, Pennsylvania, works as a security dispatcher at her school and uses marijuana recreationally.
To say she enjoys smoking marijuana is an understatement. "I LOVE POT!" she enthusiastically wrote in an e-mail to CNN. "I like to smoke with a couple people after all my work is done and the day is over to unwind and relax. I recommend everyone does that."
Since she started smoking regularly in college, she said she feels well rested. "It definitely does not affect my grades," she said. "This semester I got straight As and I am also on the Dean's List." Even her parents and grandmother know she smokes pot, and they don't mind it. But she says they do worry about her getting caught.
She can't understand why other states are not going toward legalization. "I am very pro pot," she said. "Many people have no idea what they are missing out on."
Marijuana 'makes me a better person'
Computer engineer farmer808 has been smoking since middle school, when he says he saw his parents doing it. Now he's in his forties and still turns to marijuana after work to relax. Toking up is a family activity -- his wife and college-age children partake in it, too.
"My day gets better and my emotional health improves the moment I spark up. For me, it is a beautiful thing that allows me to be more of a positive person," he said. "I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, marijuana is a boon to my life and helps me treat my fellow humans with the patience and kindness they deserve."
He'd like to see his state of Hawaii take the next steps toward legalizing retail sales of marijuana. He asked not to be identified because "there are many people who still despise marijuana users" and he worried about it affecting his career at a multinational company.
"I am a high performing, innovative, overachiever who uses marijuana to relax after a hard day's work," he said. "I have two college degrees and over a dozen patents in computer science. Like any habit, abuse leads to problems, but properly used in moderation I feel that marijuana is a boon to society."
Just want to enjoy the 'blessed herb'
CELESTIAL96 says he grew up in the "Flower Child Revolution." The magazine writer, author and journalist first started smoking marijuana recreationally in the 1970s while living in Los Angeles.
"It made a person feel mellow and creative, it gave you a high without a hangover, and it even had a spiritual touch to it," he wrote in his iReport.
But it wasn't until he relocated to the Caribbean to become an editor at a weekly paper that he started smoking marijuana regularly, about once a month. "I cut down on my drinking and my quality of life as well as my creativity as a writer took off," he said. "It just gives a very warm, mellow creative high that can't be explained. It has to be experienced.
"My relationship to the 'blessed herb,' as the islanders call it, is one of respect and awe," he said.
He says ganja, another Caribbean colloquialism for marijuana, awakens his mind and spirit when it is smoked properly. "I have never had a bad experience with cannabis," he said.
Now in his seventies and back in the states, he wants to be able to enjoy smoking recreationally again. "I think marijuana should be decriminalized and made legal in every state," he said. "I divide my time between Pennsylvania and Missouri, and wish both states would change the law on recreational use of marijuana."
Pot lets me 'be a productive citizen'
If recreational marijuana were legal, security guard and father Tokahontas (yes, we chuckled at the username too) says he would never drink alcohol again.
It's a bold statement, but he's been a firm Mary Jane fan for the past 30 years, smoking occasionally whenever he can get his hands on marijuana. He says it allows him "to get up the next day, hangover free, and be a productive citizen."
It sounds like his wife prefers him that way, too.
"She says that when my friends and I get together and drink alcohol ... we act childish and stupid and sometimes even furniture gets broken. Plus she usually has to fight with one of us not to get behind the wheel," he wrote in his iReport. "But when we gather to smoke a little bit, she says we are all easygoing and hassle free. Our biggest concern on pot night is whether or not we gave the Domino's guy the right address."
If pot were legalized in North Carolina, the "sweet leaf" would be "my wine at the end of the day," he said. "If pot is the gateway drug, the only drug it has led me to is more pot."
Benefits 'far outweigh' the downsides
David Harper, 65, says if pot sales were legalized where he lives he would absolutely buy -- although he's skeptical it will ever happen in his home state of Texas. The veteran and retired electrical engineer took his first hit when he was 24.
"Back in the early '70s you took what you could get," he said. Whether the marijuana was called "Mexican" or "Jamaican" or "Maui Wowi" he tried it. His college was lax about marijuana use, so he and his roommates smoked whenever they wanted in school.
"For me, the best part was the relaxation of both mind and body," he said. The former engineering major used to use it as a study aid because his mind would wander while reading his textbooks at night. "After taking a couple of tokes -- enough to get a nice buzz -- I found that it was much easier to concentrate."
He smoked pot throughout college, but stopped after graduating out of fear he'd get arrested. "This was unfortunate as, looking back, I would definitely say that some of my best [electrical] work was done during the early years of my career when I was using pot," he said.
Although he no longer uses marijuana, he is thrilled to see that states like Colorado and Washington are taking progressive steps toward legalizing the retail sale of marijuana.
"The benefits far outweigh any potential downsides," he said.