As of December 2018, recreational use of cannabis is legal here in Michigan. However, there are aspects of the law that are still hazy.
Recreational cannabis isn’t for sale yet. While technically legal, the state is still creating a framework for the legal retail market, which means we won’t see recreational cannabis shops open until 2020. In the meantime, medical marijuana dispensaries are open and thriving. (Check out our step-by-step guide to getting a medical marijuana card here).
But what about all the other rules surrounding cannabis? How much can you possess, where can you consume...and what about drug testing? Get informed with our guide to Michigan’s cannabis laws.
Similar to alcohol laws, you must be 21 or older to possess cannabis in the state of Michigan. You can have up to 2.5 ounces (70.8 grams) on your person. You’re also allowed to give up to 2.5 ounces (70.8 grams) to another person, but not for payment. Note: you are not allowed to have cannabis in your possession on school property, on a school bus or at a correctional institution.
At home, you can possess up to 10 ounces of flower, as long as anything over the 2.5-ounce allowance is locked away in a safe, a locked room or briefcase, or "other functioning security devices that restrict access to the contents of the container or area.” Otherwise, you could be hit with a $100 fine.
Can I grow my own?
If you’ve got a green thumb, Michiganders are allowed to grow up to 12 plants for recreational use—one of the most relaxed growing policies of legal states. However, they cannot be in public view. The plants can’t be visible from a public place (barring the use of binoculars, for example). If you’re growing them outside, they must be in an enclosed area equipped with locks, like a shed or grow house.
Where can I consume?
Cannabis can only be consumed at homes or on private property. Landlords can prohibit the use of cannabis at their discretion, so be sure to check with your landlord’s policies.
Cannabis can’t be smoked at bars or restaurants or anywhere accessible to the public. So if you want to light up while walking your dog, you could get hit with a fine. After all, this isn’t Canada, where you can spark a joint pretty much wherever cigarette smoking is allowed (in most provinces).
What about consumption lounges?
Similar to Michigan, California also bans smoking in public areas, prompting cities like San Francisco, Oakland and South Lake Tahoe to open “canna cafes.” Recently, emergency measures signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allow for smoking lounges, including at retail stores, as well as social consumption licenses for special events in Michigan. The emergency rules expire in six months, so it’s unclear if lounges will be permitted after that.
While we’re beginning to see legislators take action around recreational smoking lounges, we’re still far from seeing any legal canna-cafes here in Michigan. Cities and Townships still have until November 1st of this year to ban cannabis businesses as they see fit. So while you can possess cannabis, you may have a hard time purchasing it legally if you live in one of those townships. And it’s unlikely you’ll be frequenting a cannabis lounge there, either.
Can I have it in my car?
The rules for cannabis are pretty much the same as alcohol. You can’t have an accessible, open container in your vehicle, which means you need to leave everything sealed in its package until you get home. You can also legally stow your products in the trunk, so long as you’re under the legal limit. Of course, you can’t be under the influence while you’re driving.
What about drug testing?
Michigan is an at-will employment state, meaning employees can be hired or fired due to cannabis use at the discretion of their employer. Consuming cannabis could still cost you your job, especially if your company is under a directive of federal rules.
Can I travel with cannabis across state lines?
(Original photo has been retouched)
The short answer is no. Even if you’re transporting cannabis across state lines between two legal states—like California and Nevada—you’re still in the jurisdiction of the federal government at the crossing. Cannabis is still considered a Schedule I substance, up there with the likes of heroin. (You could face a lesser charge if you were smuggling Schedule II drugs, like cocaine, fentanyl or methamphetamine, which the government deems less dangerous. Go figure.)
Say you’ve got a medical marijuana card here in Michigan and you’re travelling to Ohio, where medical marijuana is also legal. No matter. You still can’t cross state lines with cannabis. If you’re caught bringing cannabis across state lines, you may face a drug trafficking charge. And the penalties are harsh—up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 to $1 million, for even just a gram of cannabis. Even in states where cannabis is legalized, like Nevada, you could face two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
So if you’re travelling out of state, leave your cannabis at home. And don’t even think about bringing cannabis to neighbouring Ontario. Yes, cannabis is legal in Canada. But it’s still illegal to transport cannabis products (including CBD) across the border, even if you are travelling from an area where it’s been legalized or you use it for medical purposes.
Consume within the law; fight for what’s right.
As cannabis becomes consumed more widely across the country, we’re hopeful to see more legislation reflecting the changing attitudes towards the plant. In the meantime, let’s keep fighting for the people, especially disproportionately affected minorities, who are still suffering the consequences for cannabis-related convictions. Expungement is essential to restore that extreme injustice.