Marijuana in Michigan is in flux this week.
Recreational use for adults over 21 became legal Thursday after being passed by voters as a ballot initiative in the November election. The Board of Medical Marihuana Licensing passed a resolution which allows licensed sellers to buy from licensed caregivers, a transaction which previously would have resulted in disciplinary action or criminal charges. And, marijuana is the subject of many bills before the statehouse in this year’s lame-duck session.
All of the changes come with caveats as the state continues to develop the new regulatory framework around marijuana. Here’s a roundup of what Michigander’s need to know about all the changes to Michigan’s marijuana policy this week:
Michigan became the first state in the Midwest and the tenth in the nation to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
Josh Hovey, spokesperson for the Legalized Marijuana Campaign said the law is a big win for the state of Michigan. He said there were many benefits attached to the new law including increased state tax revenues and decriminalization for possession of small amounts of Marijuana.
“The most important thing about this law is that people will stop being arrested for, what they frankly have already been doing in their homes for years and years and years, and in the long term generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for the state," said Hovey.
Adults over 21 in Michigan can now possess under two point five ounces of marijuana on their person, or ten ounces at home.
They can also grow up to 12 marijuana plants, but they can’t purchase or sell it without a medical marijuana card.
Hovey said people should still be aware they can’t smoke in public, drive under the influence, and they should be informed about workplace policy on marijuana.
Some groups, like the Legalized Marijuana Campaign, which campaigned to pass the new law say making low-level possession legal will free up resources for local law enforcement.
But Adam Kline, Chief of the Lansing Township Police Department, said he thinks the jury is still out on how legalization will affect police in Michigan
"We never really stopped people on the street just for plain possession," said Chief Kline. "It was always usually associated with maybe traffic stops, maybe accidents, maybe some other crimes. You know you don't really see somebody walking down the street and say, 'Hey, I think he's in possession'."
Police can't arrest adults over 21 who have less than 2.5 ounces on their person unless they're on federal property or near a K-12 school.
The Medical Marihuana Licensing Board passed a resolution Friday that allows for provisioning centers, growers and processors to accept marihuana from licensed caregivers while regulated medical marihuana makes its way into the market.
Bureau of Marijuana Regulation Director Andrew Brisbo said the change is meant to serve the community as the board continues to process licenses.
“We wanted to make sure that there was a supplementary mechanism to make sure that those products were meeting the need of the patients in the short term as the regulated market continues to ramp up and provide all the regulated facilities with an adequate product," said Brisbo.
A spokesman for the BMR said the rule change is about maintaining access for patients as the bureau attempts to close the gap of licensed facilities and those operating under temporary emergency rules established earlier this year.
Board member Donald Bailey opposed the rule change, he says he sees it as hypocritical.
“We just went ahead and said, ‘Okay, you can do that now.’ When you can’t do that, it’s still against the law. Until this board grants licenses it’s still illegal.”
The board voted in favor of the measure 3-1.
A provisioning center slated to sell marihuana in Lansing was also granted licensure by state regulators at Friday’s meeting.
Marijuana at the Statehouse
There are a series of bills in the statehouse that would impact the regulatory environment around Marijuana in the state of Michigan, but the bill that’s attracting the most attention is Senate Bill 1243.
Sponsored by State Senator Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, the bill proposes lowering the tax on retail sales of marijuana, restricting growing plants at home, and appointing a licensing board to handle recreational marijuana business licenses.
To be passed, the bill needs ¾ of the vote in both chambers of the Statehouse.
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