Michigan is one of 11 states to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use. The state legalized medical marijuana in 2008 and also legalized recreational marijuana in 2018. The state has around 200 licensed marijuana businesses. Let’s take a look at the marijuana laws in Michigan.
Marijuana laws before legalization
Before legalization, Michigan had strict marijuana laws. Possession of marijuana in any quantity was punishable by a $2,000 fine or up to one year in prison. Plus, the actual consumption of cannabis was punishable by a $100 fine and up to 90 days of jail time. If anyone consumed cannabis in a public place, the sentence could increase to two years in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Gifting cannabis was also a punishable offense. The offender could get up to one year of jail time and a fine of $1,000. The cultivation and sale of cannabis was a major felony. It was punishable by a larger fine and up to 15 years of incarceration. The severity of the punishment depends on the number of plants grown and the amount of cannabis sold.
Timeline of marijuana laws in Michigan
Michigan legalized medical marijuana in November 2008. The initiative appeared on the ballot and received a 63% vote. Michigan is the 13th state to make medical marijuana legal. Governor Rick Snyder approved bills to improve its legalization in the state. The new bills approved the operation of cannabis dispensaries and implemented a 3% tax on cannabis products.
The Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, headed by Dianne Bryum, proposed the Michigan Compassionate Care bill to legalize the medical use of marijuana in the state. The initiative appeared as Proposal 1 on the ballot in November 2008. The measure received 63% support from the Michigan voters.
The bill was first presented to the state legislature in March 2008 and received the required signatures from supporters. However, the legislature missed acting on the proposal within the 40 days set by law. So, the initiative ended up on the November 2008 ballot and was approved by the voters.
Michigan Compassionate Care
- The measure allows seriously ill patients to use medical cannabis with the physician’s recommendation. Patients can possess up to 2.5 ounces.
- It also permits patients or caregivers to grow their own marijuana plants for medical use. The patients can grow up to 12 cannabis plants.
- The measure did not explicitly permit operations of dispensaries in the state.
The list of qualifying conditions for the use of medical marijuana in the state of Michigan follow:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Hepatitis C
- Crohn’s disease
- Nail patella syndrome
- Severe nausea
- Muscle spasms
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Parkinson’s disease
Updates in the marijuana laws
Marijuana laws enforced in 2008 did not explicitly specify allowing the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan. In February 2013, the state’s supreme court ruled that medical marijuana dispensaries were illegal. During this period, the state had around 75 dispensaries.
Governor Rick Snyder approved bills to reform the marijuana laws in September 2016. The bills permitted medical marijuana dispensaries and also allowed cannabis topicals and edibles in the state. In addition, the bills implemented a 3% tax on medical marijuana.
Qualifying patients and the process
Patients must be Michigan residents with valid proof of identity. Patients must receive legitimate medical documentation from a primary physician with the details of their diagnosis. Notably, these records are important for marijuana evaluation in the state. In addition, patients must obtain a validated certificate by a licensed physician stating that the patient would benefit from medical marijuana.
Only the patients who fulfill this process can register with the state’s medical marijuana program and receive a marijuana card. The state charges an application fee of $60 and an additional fee of $25 for assigned cannabis caregivers.
According to the current laws, patients aged 21 and over can possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis. Further, patients aged 18–21 can possess up to 1 ounce. However, registered patients can possess up to 16 ounces of marijuana products in solid form, 7 grams in the form of a gas, and 36 fluid ounces in liquid form.
Recreational marijuana in Michigan
In 2018, Michigan legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act appeared in the ballot in November 2018, and the initiative was introduced in November 2017.
Supporters of this proposal submitted 365,000 signatures, and the state of Michigan certified the proposal in April. Although the initiative submitted the required signatures, it was not passed by the legislature. As the timeline to amend the act and pass it through the legislature expired, the unamended proposal appeared on the November 2018 ballot.
Contents of the bill
- The initiative eliminates the penalties for anyone possessing or using up to 2.5 ounces cannabis or up to 15 grams of cannabis concentrate.
- It also limits the possession of marijuana up to 10 ounces per residence.
- Michigan residents can grow up to 12 plants for their personal use.
- Michigan municipalities can decide the number of cannabis establishments within their boundaries.
- The act also creates licenses for the commercial marijuana category. This category allows an individual to get a license and grow up to 150 cannabis plants and sell directly to the users.
- Unlike the medical marijuana law’s licensing board, recreational marijuana licenses are evaluated and approved by Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
- The law includes an additional 10% excise tax on recreational marijuana products.
Recreational marijuana sales in the state of Michigan exceeded $1.6 million in just one week, with only five recreational marijuana retail stores. The launch of recreational cannabis products was scheduled for spring 2020. However, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency moved the launch to December 1.
Although sales in the state are soaring, the move has not been welcomed by many in the industry. This move resulted in marijuana businesses using their medical marijuana stocks rather than growing recreational marijuana stock from scratch.
Notably, the Michigan regulating agency recently proposed a “labor peace agreement” between the businesses and unions. This agreement aims to prohibit strikes, protests, and boycotts. Plus, the agency intends to secure the stability of a growing industry as the states continue to face the threat of black market sales. However, this proposal is seen by many as a step toward forced unionization.