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Grand Rapids attorney clarifies marijuana gifting laws

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- With recreational marijuana now legal in Michigan, some people are looking for ways to get around certain regulations. One example is by gifting it, but attorneys say it's not that simple.

Some businesses think they can get around the law by gifting marijuana, maybe selling a t-shirt for 500 dollars that comes with a free ounce of weed, but lawyers say, that’s not a good idea.

As Michigan prepares for the emergence of recreational marijuana shops, some businesses might be trying to get ahead of the game looking for a loophole to the law. One way would be by gifting it.

"It is not unlawful to give away or otherwise transfer without remuneration, that is without compensation, up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana to a person 21 years of age or older as long as the transfer is not advertised or promoted to the public," said Bob Hendricks, attorney with Wrigley, Hoffman and Hendricks Law.

Hendricks is explaining the legal verbiage on gifting marijuana from Proposal 1, which went into law on December 6, explaining it’s legal to give someone marijuana as long as it’s no more than 2.5 ounces and you don’t advertise or promote the exchange.

"I think what the ballot drafts people had in mind was that if I was an adult recreational marijuana user and I had some friends over to my house who shared my interest in that, I could give marijuana to my friends," said Hendricks. "I think that’s what they contemplated.”

No businesses in West Michigan spoke with FOX 17 about doing this, likely because that could be considered promoting it, but either way, Hendricks doesn’t recommend it.

"Don’t do it this way, that’d be my advice," said Hendricks. "This law imposes fairly small limits on the amount of recreational marijuana a person can possess, so if you wanted to get into the business of giving away marijuana, you’d need a fairly significant amount of inventory and that inventory would almost certainly violate the maximum possession limits of this law.”

If any businesses are willing to take that risk, Hendricks says you better lawyer up.

"You ought to set aside a fair amount of money to pay a criminal defense lawyer if law enforcement decides to challenge what you’re doing and you better get a really good lawyer who can convince a jury that that’s what this ballot proposal intended," said Hendricks.

Hendricks says the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs legally has up to 12 months to come up with guidelines and expects to see recreational marijuana for sale in about a year to a year and a half from now.

If you’re interested in starting a business like this, Hendricks recommends following LARA's rules and regulations for applications and the selection process and going from there.

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