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Citizen’s Q & A

Earlier this year we posted what’s allowed and what isn’t. Since then, new questions have arisen, which we’re addressing here in this Q&A.

 

Michigan legalized the sale of cannabis for medical in 2008. To date, thirty-three states have enacted the same law.

 

Then last November, 57% of Michiganders who took part in the issue voted to legalize recreational cannabis sales. The election was certified in December and the law went into effect, ending marijuana's criminalization. Michigan became the 10th state to make the move. But officials have had a year to set up a system to issue licenses to sell to recreational retailers.

 

So, what’s the latest?

Sunday, December 1st was the first day of legal cannabis sales in Michigan.

 

And customers came prepared with plenty of cash. More than $220,000 rang through the registers at the four legal cannabis shops open on that historic first day. And in the first eight days of legal weed sales, five legal adult-use shops around the state sold $1.6 million of recreational marijuana, according to reports by the Detroit Free Press.

 

Andrew Brisbo, director of the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency admitted, "That was what we expected. The demand is already there and we’re inching toward the supply that will meet that demand."

 

So where can I buy recreational marijuana, legally?

As of December 9th, 10 retailers have been licensed to sell adult-use cannabis in communities that include the cannabis-friendly city of Ann Arbor as well as Evart and White Cloud. More openings are imminent.

 

Are there cannabis dispensaries near me?

That depends on where you are. Fewer than 20% of cities in Michigan allow dispensaries. And of those, not all have them up and running yet – either medical or recreational.

 

Why isn’t legalized marijuana in more widely available in Michigan?

There are a few reasons.

 

First, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act allows municipalities to opt-in or opt-out of allowing recreational marijuana facilities. This includes cannabis retailers.

 

The state only started accepting applications for recreational cannabis dispensaries on November 1st of this year. As of December 9th, the state has awarded 21 recreational cannabis licenses – 10 of which are to retail shops. It has pre-qualified a bunch more business applications. But each must be vetted thoroughly and the location inspected before they can be awarded a state license.

 

What’s the hold up?

While Michiganders may have already voted to approve legalized recreational dope, it’s the local municipalities that make it happen. And the fact is, approximately 80% of municipalities (more than 1,400) have opted out of allowing recreational marijuana sales in their communities.

 

Are the authorities responsible?

In the towns that haven’t banned it, local governments are still sorting through the process. Many are still drafting ordinances that will decide who gets the coveted retail licenses. Of course, there are some that are deliberately dragging their feet.

 

Detroit, for example, has granted 40 licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, but the city has put a hold on granting recreational licenses. In early November, the Detroit City Council voted unanimously to opt-out of legalizing recreational cannabis until at least January 31, 2020. The story is similar in Ferndale, where there are three medical dispensaries and the city intends to grant three recreational business licenses. But it has decided to extend the date for submitting applications until March 1st.

 

Who can buy legal recreational marijuana in Michigan?

Anyone over the age of 21 with a valid state ID or driver's license can purchase recreational marijuana from licensed retailers.

 

Okay, what can I buy, exactly?

It’s not like there’s an abundance of product out there. And – let’s be honest – for now, not much variety to speak of. (Common Citizen is working to make up for those issues in the days to come).

 

The law limits sales to 2.5 ounces of flower, including up to 15 grams of concentrate.

 

Until this December, it’s all been for medical use. So the state has allowed businesses with adult-use licenses to sell 50% of their medical inventory now as recreational product, as long as they’ve had it in their inventory for at least 30 days.

 

Anyone who’s been to a dispensary recently knows there’s been an ongoing shortage of marijuana flower in the medical market. It’s probably fair to expect a similar situation for recreational users – at least for a while.

 

It’s worth remembering that the state has temporarily halted the sales of cannabis-infused vapes to ensure consumers are not harmed by vitamin E acetate. That’s the additive which the Centers for Disease Control has linked to lung illnesses in more than 2,000 people, including 49 now who have died.

 

Edibles are the answer. Gummies and mints, chocolate bars and concentrates. With a larger supply of marijuana-infused edibles in a variety of forms and flavors, Michiganders would have no trouble getting all the cannabis they’d like.

 

What’s a fair price for pot products?

It’s difficult to predict the future of prices, particularly as the market develops and more and more product is made available. Currently, in Michigan, marijuana flower ranges from $10 to $20 a gram. Pre-rolled joints go anywhere from $6 to $12+. Concentrates will set you back $10 to $40 for a half-gram. And marijuana-infused edibles can run from $15 to $25 but often include multiple servings in a package.

 

How much cannabis can I have on me?

Legally, you’re allowed up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana on you and up to 10 ounces at home – as long as it’s locked up. You can have up to 2.5 ounces in your car. It should be in some type of container, and out of sight in a secure location, like the glove box or trunk. And, of course, neither drivers nor passengers can consume weed while in a vehicle.

 

Can I smoke cannabis in public?

In a word: No.

 

Legalizing marijuana for recreational use doesn’t give you a free pass to get high wherever you want. But your home is your own and you can, of course, use cannabis at home or at the homes of friends and family.

 

The good news is public consumption may be coming. The state has created a category of license for social consumption – places where people can gather to use marijuana. But it hasn’t issued any licenses yet. Right now, public consumption outdoors and driving while high are both illegal. Like drinking and driving, police can arrest you if they suspect you’re driving under the influence of cannabis, although arrests for public consumption might be harder for police to enforce. Like smoking cigarettes, you’re welcome to do it at home, but it’s prohibited in restaurants and other public buildings.

 

Can I use marijuana in my rental?

Your landlord owns the property. He or she has every right to prohibit smoking and growing cannabis plants on the property they own. What they can’t do is stop you from using non-smokable forms of marijuana, such as edibles.

 

Can I be fired for using marijuana?

Yes. Employers can still do pre-employment and random drug tests on employees. And legalization won’t protect you if you test positive. Any employer can or fire or discipline you if you test positive for marijuana.

 

If you’re applying for a job, you might not want to walk in to the interview reeking of marijuana. They can refuse to hire you if you smoke cannabis. And they’re allowed to maintain zero-tolerance policies for their employees while at work.

 

Where can I grow marijuana?

Don't expect to plant cannabis among the petunias in your front flower garden. Legally, you’re allowed to grow up to 12 cannabis plants for personal use. But here’s the catch: Plants can’t be visible from a public place "without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids or outside of an enclosed area equipped with locks or other functioning security devices that restrict access to the area."

 

What happens to medical marijuana?

Nothing. Except that medical patients will be prioritized, as customers, over recreational consumers. Retail shops must also have a medical marijuana license for at least their first two years selling recreational marijuana.

 

But you should know there are two differences between medical and recreational marijuana in Michigan. Medical marijuana edibles can have a higher potency level – up to 50 milligrams per serving. For recreational edibles, the potency limit is 10 milligrams per serving.

 

Taxes on medical and recreational weed are also are different. Medical marijuana carries the state's 6% sales tax while recreational has a 10% excise tax in addition to the 6% sales tax.

 

Can you go into a dispensary without a card in Michigan?

Anyone with ID showing they’re at least 21 can go into one of the new recreational dispensaries. At a medical dispensary, however, if you want to access the product area, you need ID declaring you’re over the age of 18 and you need to have a medical card. It’s easy to get a card, though.

 

Where do we go from here?

According to the Detroit Free Press, “Michigan's medical marijuana industry serves nearly 300,000 people.” But estimates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services claim the recreational market in our state could be about 1.5 million.