Recreational pot allowed in Michigan Dec. 6

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan clears a threshold this week as the first state in the Midwest to allow marijuana for more than just medical purposes. In the Nov. 6 election, voters by a wide margin endorsed recreational use by adults who are at least 21. The move comes 10 years after voters approved marijuana to alleviate the effects of certain illnesses. Many supporters believe that decadelong experience, as well as similar legalization efforts in other states, led to victory at the ballot box.

"It's certainly going to smell like freedom," starting Thursday, said Detroit lawyer Matt Abel, who specializes in marijuana law and whose office sign says, "cannabis counsel."

Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Of course, there are many caveats in Michigan and already some tension.

HOW MUCH?

Michigan residents who are 21 or older can possess or transport up to 2.5 ounces (70.8 grams) of marijuana. They can grow up to 12 plants, although not in public view. They also can give 2.5 ounces (70.8 grams) to another person, but not for payment.

BUZZ ZONES

Marijuana can be consumed only at homes or other private property, although landlords and employers can prohibit it. It can't be smoked at bars or restaurants or any other place that is accessible to the public. That means getting high while walking the dog or hustling between college classes could lead to trouble. Michigan colleges and universities have repeatedly stated that campus anti-drug policies won't change. Employers will still be able to fire people for drug use.

POT SHOPS

The doors aren't open yet. The new law creates a system of growing and selling marijuana, with millions of dollars to be collected in taxes, but those shops still are months away and must involve state regulators. So people who want marijuana now will need to grow it or obtain it by other, perhaps illegal, means. Michigan is just beginning to license medical-marijuana dispensaries. Abel hopes Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer considers allowing them to sell marijuana for recreational use to meet demand. "The sooner they license retail stores, the sooner the state will be collecting revenue," he says.

LOCAL RESISTANCE

Depending on where people live, buying marijuana won't be as easy as buying bread. Elected officials in some communities already have voted to ban pot businesses, long before rules are in place. A local veto is available under the law. Local governments also can revisit their policy later. Communities that block marijuana businesses lose an opportunity to capture a portion of a 10 percent tax. But St. Joseph Mayor Mike Garey predicts: "It's not going to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." St. Joseph is out for now.

POLICE AND PROSECUTORS

After the election, some prosecutors said they would dismiss any pending misdemeanor cases involving small amounts of marijuana that now will be legal. "The people have spoken," Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker says. Expungement of past convictions is also being considered in some counties. Marijuana still is illegal under federal law, although Michigan's federal prosecutors say they typically pursue major drug traffickers, not "low-level offenders." State police spokesman Lt. Mike Shaw says it remains illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. "This law isn't going to change that," he says.

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13 comments

  • Anthony A Mancuso

    I am praying that the cities choosing to Opt out of Recreational or Medical Marijuana Sales soon change their minds, it’s as simple as this, If a City Opts Out of Sales it’s residents will just go to a Neighboring City to purchase it and Legally bring it home in a lock box and in trunk, all of that Tax Revenue would go to that Neighboring City. This means Opting out is not going to keep Marijuana out of specific cities, It will just be brought into those cities Opting Out while all who Opted In Will Get The Benefits of the Taxes to go towards Roads & Infrustructure, Schools, AND Cities that Opt IN not Out of Sales! I don’t think this should even be an option because all our cities can use that Tax Revenue! My opinion is Opting out does absolutely Nobody and/or Cities ANY Good What So Ever!

    • BOB

      The Sate of Michigan gets the tax revenue. Local governments will only get some money if the state decides to give it to them. No guarantee that will happen.

    • Kevin Rahe

      It is morally corrupt to profit from an illicit enterprise. A city that opts out may not keep marijuana out, but it sends a message.

      • Unslaved

        In that case, no one should ever pay any kind of tax, period. Nothing is more immoral than following orders and every government depends on order followers for its tax collections.

        Following orders is literally ignoring morality and doing what you’re told because it’s your job. Police and military follow orders every day. You don’t seem to oppose them so do you oppose “the lack of morality” or do you oppose what you fear? It’s obvious to me you oppose what you fear and you fear what you don’t understand.

    • Robert E Lee

      You are a fool if you really think that!!! Alcohol, texting, eating, and distracted driving cause more deaths than pot. Get over it! The 80’s called, they want their ignorant and misleading ideas and policy’s back. LOL!!!! come on. You may get a few here and there but it is not going to significantly add to all the other ways drivers kill themselves and others. Maybe a new smoker may get to buzzed to drive, but the majority of pot smokers can handle driving while “high”. How many of them are out there killing people. You are promoting “reefer madness” It the “devils work” right?. What timeline are you living in? I bet you would be surprised by the amount of “stoned” drivers that never cause a problem on the roads. Have you ever been drunk? have you ever been high? which one made it so you can barley walk, talk, or function? Which one makes you throw up and violent? Which one destroys family’s and livers? Which one is responsible for killing people every day? which one makes you pass out and blackout? which one imprisons people and takes so much money from people everyday? Your ignorant beliefs will die with you. Good luck with that!********** LIBERTARIAN FOR LIFE*******

  • Iamct01

    I have been driving to Lansing for three years now for medical when GR has none. City limits of Lansing is getting Xmas money while I am already there for weed this weekend.