Michigan approves recreational marijuana. What you need to know.

Proposal 1 says Michigan residents 21 and older can carry up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, but can’t smoke it in public or drive under the influence.

October 2019: Opinion | Marijuana retail bans stunt Michigan's economic growth
August 2019: Michigan committee approves health warning labels for marijuana​
July 18, 2019: New rules to give residents of poor cities piece of Michigan pot industry
April 25, 2019: Sea change for Michigan marijuana comes amidst industry chaos​

Dec. 4, 2018: You can smoke pot in Michigan but not buy it. What you need to know.

Michigan has become the first state in the Midwest to approve recreational use of marijuana, capping a years-long debate here over legalization.

Ballot Proposal 1, which legalizes the use and sale for adults 21 and older, was headed for victory, along with measures to appoint a nonpartisan commission to draw political districts and implement same-day voter registration.

Michigan joins nine other states and Washington, D.C. in permitting some form of recreational cannabis. Medical marijuana is legal in 31 states, including Missouri, whose voters approved an initiative for its use Tuesday night.

Related: You’ll never guess which Michigan counties loved weed (Kidding, you will)

The ballot measure comes 10 years after Michigan voters approved the use of medical marijuana.

Here’s 11 questions and answers explaining what you need to know about the new law:

When does the law take effect?

About a month.

Michigan’s Constitution states that approved initiatives “take effect 10 days after the date of the official declaration of the vote.” That doesn’t happen until the election is certified by the Board of State Canvassers, a process that usually takes about three weeks, said Fred Woodhams, spokesman for Michigan’s Department of State.

Who can use marijuana?

You must be at least 21 years old to get or ingest cannabis in any form. Those under the age of 21 are not permitted to possess, consume, or sell marijuana products.

Once it takes effect, what can I do?

The law allows users to carry 2.5 ounces in public and at home have up to 10 ounces and 12 plants, as long as they are not grown in a location visible from outside.

What can’t I do?

Smoke in public. Or drive under the influence. That’s still illegal.

“The law is very clear on that,” said state Sen. Rick Jones, who sponsored a bill  to pilot a new roadside saliva test for marijuana detection.

“It’s what they call zero tolerance. You may not have marijuana in your system driving.”

Possession is also illegal at K-12 schools or lands owned by the federal government, such as national forests or parks. And while individual users can grow plants, they can’t sell them. Sales of any cannabis product requires state licensing and testing before it hits the market.

Will police stop enforcing pot possession laws before it takes effect?

Marijuana is still illegal until the law goes into effect, so there’s a one-month window when users can still get arrested for pot in a state that voted to legalize it. Police likely will use discretion, experts say.

“I think it will depend on the seriousness –  does a person have baggie in the trunk or a baggie in their pocket and appear to be driving impaired,” said Eric Lupher, president of the Citizens Research Council, a nonprofit public affairs research organization.

Can I run to the store to buy a joint and smoke it next month?

Not quite.

Personal possession and growth is legal as soon as the law takes effect, so sparking up isn’t an issue, said Josh Hovey, a spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which led the initiative.

The trick could be buying marijuana legally in the first place.

Michigan’s state and local governments must establish regulations before products hit the shelves. That will take about two years, as the initiative gives the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs 24 months to create and start distributing licenses. LARA spokesman David Harns told Bridge “we anticipate waiting until the election results are certified [by the Board of State Canvassers] to discuss the particulars.” 

"LARA is going to have its hands full," predicted Randy Richardville, the spokesman for Healthy and Productive Michigan, the major group that opposed Proposal 1.

That’s one government hurdle. Another is cities.

The ballot measure was unpopular among elected officials, and municipalities can opt out of allowing commercial sales if they do not want marijuana markets coming to town.

“To ban businesses entirely, communities will need to adopt a local ordinance or pass a referendum.” Hovey told Bridge. “But communities also have their local zoning and business laws to restrict or regulate marijuana businesses.”

Local governments can also place a limit on the number of businesses they allow instead of banning it outright.

Officials of Michigan’s big cities may not move quickly to get business rolling. Grand Rapids’ City Commission approved medical marijuana businesses this year, but has yet to begin accepting license applications. Suzanne Schulz of Grand Rapids’ City Planning Commission says the commissioners have not had any discussions about recreational marijuana.

City officials in Lansing in Detroit either didn’t respond or didn’t speculate on timelines when contacted by Bridge. In the meantime, as governments create regulations, medical pot dispensaries still will only be able to be frequented by those with medical marijuana cards.

Wait. Isn’t marijuana still illegal under federal law?

Yes it is, so you keep your bud out of national parks and off of federal land. And many legal experts say landlords still can ban tenants from using marijuana even in states that legalized it.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a hardline stance against legalization and called on “all U.S. attorneys to enforce the laws enacted by Congress.” But that’s largely gone unenforced, and The Wall Street Journal reported “Mr. Sessions’ own prosecutors have yet to bring federal charges against pot businesses that are abiding by state law.”

The issue is far more complicated for business owners. In many states, because of bank regulations, marijuana remains a largely cash-only business, while there are serious tax implications because of the federal prohibition. (Editor's note: Jeff Sessions resigned as attorney general on Nov. 7, a day after this story was published.)

Are prior marijuana convictions impacted by the new legal status of the drug?

No, the law only impacts use going forward. The new legislation does not expunge prior convictions for marijuana crimes or commute sentences.

State Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint, in June proposed legislation in June to allow Michigan residents to apply for expungement of cannabis misdemeanors. The bill hasn’t gained traction.

Can I still get fired for using marijuana?

You bet.

Some industries, such as federal contractors or transportation workers, will still be required by the federal government to test for marijuana and fire users. Otherwise, drug tests are up to individual companies. State business leaders have indicated they will continue to penalize workers for flunking drug tests to ensure workplace safety.

How likely is a lawsuit to block implementation?

Very, if the experience from other states is replicated in Michigan.

States that have adopted recreational marijuana have had numerous lawsuits over everything from local ordinances to the smell from marijuana production.

“I don’t know who would be involved, but is this going to cause a lot of litigation? Yes,” said Richardville, the Healthy and Productive Michigan spokesman.

He said his group  so far has no plans to file suits.

Would the state be able to delay implementation?

Not really. Unlike the state’s 2008 medical marijuana law, which encountered numerous delays, the new recreational marijuana  law sets a timeline for licensing commercial enterprises.

State regulators, however, must address some lingering issues. For instance, the state is required to set rules for edible products’ maximum levels of THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana.  

“I think some of us would be very adamant that LARA needs to take a real hard look at the 6,000 words (in the law) and see what they can regulate,” said Richardville.

The Legislature could theoretically pass a law to impact the measure, but doing so would require approval from a three-fourths of the Legislature, which is a tall task

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Marni H.
Wed, 11/07/2018 - 1:59am

So, if the law goes into effect in a month, does that mean people can buy marijuana at the already established medical marijuana dispensaries, without an ID card? What does all of this mean for the current medical marijuana patients? I'm glad we are finally legalizing it, but there are so many unanswered questions.

Steve R.
Wed, 11/07/2018 - 10:07am

No, you still need to have a card to buy it from a dispensary. The State has up to two years to start giving business licenses for recreational sale. Once the law takes effect, sometime in Dec., you are able to possess it and grow it (as long as you abide by the stipulations put forth), but being able to purchase it from a retailer will most likely take a while. Though, our new Governor is a supporter, so that is helpful.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 10:31am

You could always try reading the article first.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 7:25pm

Lol right. I think someone might have already started smoking

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 2:53am

It's about time, now we need to get the federal government to change it from the worst class of drug.
I cant foresee them legalizing it recreational or otherwise for a long time until the old boys club dies off.
Here' s hoping their replacements will be a smidge more progressive about pot laws.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 5:38am

Can buyers come from out of state?

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 5:38am

Can buyers come from out of state?

Alexandra Schmidt
Wed, 11/07/2018 - 2:10pm

Stores won't open their doors for a few years, but once they do buyers can come from out of state to purchase cannabis products. They can't, however, take it back to their home state. Any marijuana they purchase will have to stay within Michigan because it cannot cross state boundaries.
- Alexandra Schmidt, Bridge Magazine journalist

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 6:20am

It doesn't register. This passed by a huge margin. Yet a few think there is some reason to be an obstruction. They want to piss away time and cash in a futile effort to stop it. It won't work.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 7:05am

I know people that are regular users of marijuana are tremendously joyful and have a back hand at those who disagree with the use, but what are the results of a credible study done in Colorado after its marijuana legalization? Has there been an increase of crime, fatal traffic accidents and has there been an increase in theft? I do know there is a side effect as with anything on the planet. Were people made aware of those side effects?

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 1:37pm

Why don't you research this and let us all know. I think you will like the "side effects" of legalized pot.

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 2:31pm

I'd think assaults on Refrigerators & Cookie jars has risen significantly...

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 10:03am

Is there anything in the proposal that protects children in a home that people are smoking.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 10:52am

Your comment is uneducated and just plain disturbing. You think just because it’s becoming legal that puts our children in danger? What do you think people have been doing since the 70s??? People can legit overdose from heroin get a shot in the ass and sent on there way in front of children thousands of times a day. And suffer ZERO repercussions. What do you think goes on in homes of people that smoke who raise children in there homes?? How many times in your life have you heard a child was sitting alone unattended to because there parent suffered an overdose from marijuana??? NEVER. And why is it so many people think because this has passed, people are going to go out and kill people, and drive stoned, etc. Did it ever occur to you that people use it for pain? Headaches? Suffering from a fatal disease? Seizures? So because those people chose not to use pain killers your going to shame them for using alternative medicines??? Do you shame people for going to the chiropractor??? That’s an alternative medicine. Do you enjoy listening to how many deaths incur daily of opioid/heroin use?? I sure don’t. You really think the crime is coming from marijuana? No I’m pretty sure it’s coming from the junkies that are jonesing to get high and can’t afford a $1000 pill or injectble habit a day. Do some research. Be a little more open minded, would ya. I would like to think the people who have children who are planning to partake in this proposal would be responsible and mature in the decisions they are making around there children. If they don’t well then they shouldn’t have custody of their children. That goes for drinking, drugs, cigs, etc. not just marijuana.

David Zeman
Wed, 11/07/2018 - 12:00pm

Haley, not everybody in Michigan is as steeped or invested in this issue as you apparently are. For many folks, this is the first time they've had to learn the details about Prop 1's impact. Maybe a little less aggression and a little more generosity would be of some help to the discussion here. 

David Zeman, Bridge Editor 

Brian B
Thu, 11/08/2018 - 2:35pm

I know what your saying David. But normal people of all walks of life have had ALOT of aggression directed at them. I sat in a cage for it. I'm an animal lover, music lover and lover of all things Outdoors. I'm one of the people that stop and help if you need it. My whole adult life I was made to feel like a common criminal for consuming a %100 natural plant put on the Earth by God himself. Not a Big Pharm Lab. And that's what its REALLY about....people might realize who the REAL drug dealers are.
If you read this thank you for your time.
Brian Bonaventura

P.S. don't even get me started about get me started about growing up around alchohol in the '70s.

Diana Menhennick
Wed, 11/07/2018 - 12:48pm

With all due respect Haley why are you so offensive to someone who is asking a simple question? There are 2 sides to every issue and you really should consider that when you are in these kinds of discussions. I have not heard anyone say that because this proposal passed the murder rate will increase. No one is saying that marijuana doesn't have medicinal properties.

Sherri Thomas
Fri, 11/09/2018 - 12:47pm

I 100% agree with you...but i'm also wondering if she was meaning, (example) She smokes...has kids...but wants to grow or smoke it, but don't know if she can do either if she has kids...NOT that she would smoke in front of them, but just having it period , would she get into trouble..even if she did the responsible thing and go into another room or outside to smoke it..

Eddie Nichols
Mon, 11/12/2018 - 10:53am

I applaud your passion, if you appear to be aggressive, (according to the editor) its because we must show that we are serious, we cannot let the opposition run their mouths over us and shove us into the ground on this issue in which this should not even be and issue! LEGALIZE NATIONWIDE NOW!

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 11:10am

There isn't currently. There's also nothing protecting children from cigarettes/alcohol in the home currently, and its arguable that those two are far more dangerous than marijuana.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 10:38am

It says employers will still penalize for negative tests??????

David Zeman
Wed, 11/07/2018 - 12:04pm

That's true. As with alcohol, the legalization of marijuana does not mean that employers have to tolerate workers' use of it in their workplaces. So this new law does have a large caveat when it comes to workplace use. Though experts point out that there will likely be legal challenges over terminations. For example, should a business have the right to fire a worker if he/she has pot in their system but they are not under its influence at the time they were working? (Pot can stay in the system for weeks after it's ingested). 

Marissa R
Wed, 11/07/2018 - 3:54pm

Since employers have the right to terminate or deny employment based on a positive marijuana test, will people still be able to receive unemployment benefits? I am all for legalization, but I am not for supporting able-bodied workers who can't find a job because they can't pass a drug test. There are two sides to this. One, you can fail a drug test if you are not presently under the influence, so should people be penalized for using outside of work hours? On the other hand, if you are in need of a job and receiving support, you should be doing everything possible to get that job, even if it means giving up your legal weed use. (FYI: I understand that as taxpayers, we don't directly pay for unemployment. However, we all pay for it in some way due to higher unemployment tax rates on employers).

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 4:41am

Hi! Some good conversations happening here, and I love the no-join, no-login commenting system, if that's what this is. Very cool, BridgeMI!

Back on-subject, in a way, this is about allowing/disallowing yourself to hand-away your power. In many ways, the best thing to do is become self-employed, with your own company. From then-on, you never work FOR anyone, only WITH. You are never an employee of another company, but you might be a sub-contractor WITH another company. And guess what. You abide by YOUR company rules, not theirs. You don't sign anything that infers or implies that you are in any way... responsible for following anyone's rules but your own. You retain your power, and never put your nads into another's vise.

Most can't do this. It starts by being a "hot commodity"... a person whose expertise/skills/product is highly-sought by others. Lots of education and experience... power-up your own toolbox. Then YOU call all the shots on your life (except the choice to use/not use economies. That's forced on you, as well as being forced into the competer's religion called capitalism. Young adults have no cooperator's church/communalism alternative available... a disgusting thing we do to them.)

Lots of OR ELSE happens to 18 year olds (Even though or-elsing is felony extortion and as supposedly stopped in Chicago years ago, by Elliot Ness). There's tons of "join the free marketeers OR ELSE" happening at that age. Or else... no apartment, no car, no girlfriend/boyfriend, no dating money, no toys, no fun. Too bad we don't see this felony extortion and forced religion we do to the 18 year olds. Most... put-on the blinders and rose-colored glasses. Most prefer believing "everything is fine", regarding capitalism.

Sorry, I wandered-off into the forcings and servitude-infestation widespread in capitalism, but it IS part of this conversation. if you don't give away your power, you won't have to give-up the kind, sharing, loving attitude that comes with weed usage. You're allowed to NOT join the competer's church, and instead remain a peace-loving, everything-hugging hippy. Just hold your ground. Be well, everyone!

Larry "Wingnut" Wendlandt
MaStars - Mothers Against Stuff That Ain't Right
Anti-Capitalism-ists - System fighters, not people fighters
Bessemer MI USA

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 10:48am

The biggest mistake Colorado made was not being well prepared or imposing enough regulations from the start. I think MI has been preparing for years and have learned from this. People need to remember that this won't be a free for all because you will not be able to cross state lines in possession, own a gun or have children in your home. Also marijuana stays in your system for weeks so technically even if u aren't feeling it, you would be in jeopardy of losing everything for not following all the laws set forth including driving or working with it in your system.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 1:17pm

I may be wrong, but I don't believe that they law says anything about not being allowed to own a gun or have children in the home. Someone please correct me if so.

Alexandra Schmidt
Wed, 11/07/2018 - 2:08pm

Hi Tara,
You are correct, there is nothing in the initiative language that bans marijuana from residences with guns or children.
- Alexandra Schmidt, Bridge Magazine journalist

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 2:10pm

Since marijuana is federally illegal, it is illegal to own a firearm if you use marijuana.
From my understanding anyway.

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 8:50am

Own a gun or buy a gun?

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 2:54pm

It may not be written into law yet but I do believe it will be , I will leave it up to the journalists here to investigate that portion , we may not find out all the details until they are in place

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 3:53pm

if they have a reason to test u they will, especially if u are testing positive and have a child under21 in your care

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 3:04pm

Tara, I believe a person cannot get a concealed weapons permit if they have a medical marijuana card. Nothing was said about growing or possessing marijuana under the proposal that passed, but I imagine your permit will be at least temporarily taken away if you get a DUI.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 3:00pm

Can I come up from Indiana and buy and smoke there when legal?

Agnosticrat 2.0
Fri, 11/09/2018 - 1:28pm

Colorado had an additional 6 million tourists in 2016 for marijuana.
I wonder how many counties would like to keep that business away?

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 3:32pm

Hey BridgeMI, it looks like Jeff Sessions has just resigned as of 5 minutes ago. I guess we don't have to worry about him anymore.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 4:14pm

Are you able to drive with weed in your possession as long as your not high?

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 6:35pm

Your response in the article doesn’t seem to be completely correct for, “Are prior marijuana convictions impacted by the new legal status of the drug?” In the ballot text of Proposal 1 it states, “Change several current violations from crimes to civil infractions”.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 10:48pm

Things that need to be considered is the stays in your system for 30 days but only effects you for a day ..alcohol is out of system fast and effects for a day..so say I smoke on the 1st of the month and not smoke the rest of the month. But your employer gives a drug test on the 29th day you will test positive . some how that doesnt sound fair. You are not high but it takes pain away and helps with diabetes.among other things. They should have some sort of scale of the amount in your system.

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 5:57pm

Daily vigorous exercise can help metabolize the stored THC. I realizeaby people are using it to alleviate pain and or anxiety and vigorous exercise isn't really an option for some, but for those who use infrequently, recreationally, it could help to pass drug screens.

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 10:48pm

when can I start growing outside and what do I have to do to grow outdoors

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 9:27am

Why do we legalized pot and then forced to wait a year before we can buy it?
Ridiculous I will stay with my illegal supplier

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 5:39pm

Yeah that's BS if you ask me. They should have been making preparations in advance of this passing, not making people wait 2-3 years MINIMUM before we can legally buy it. Might as well just start your own grow-op now and by the time the plants are matured, it'll be legal to have them. Stupid bureaucracy.

Sherri Thomas
Fri, 11/09/2018 - 12:39pm

I would like to know about the test police will be giving to see if Marijuana is in your system ...i was told by a nurse at the hospital, that it stays in your system for 2-3 months...if your a moderate to heavy user..so ...how is that going to work? What if you didn't that day, but since it stays in your system, it will say it is...they are going to have to do better than that...

Eddie Nichols
Mon, 11/12/2018 - 10:48am

Okay for one, employees should adjust their drug policies. I understand that truck drivers and heavy equipment operators is a no go by federal law, but when it comes to office employees, for example working at a trucking company they should adjust the policies to exempt the office employees from any sort of random drug screening. What they do in the "off work, not getting paid time" in their OWN home is NON and I stress NON! of their business what we do. I will not listen to ANY opposition because their talking points are extremely invalid just for the simple fact that Cannabis is one of the safest things a human can consume. Its literally the ONLY thing that even if you take to much of that you cannot die from. You can die from too much sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, etc, etc.

Tommy B
Mon, 11/12/2018 - 3:06pm

The driving under the influence seems untenable to enforce. Marijuana stays in the body at a testable level for a long period of time. So, this saliva test should be contestable. How would one know if they were under the influence or if they had used in the previous day, week, or month? Unless it was a traffic stop right out of a Cheech and Chong movie I find it questionable.

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 5:40am

Can I now go to a Medical Marijuana dispensary an purchase Marijuana from them?

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 9:57am

It states you can grow up to 12 plants. So if there are 4 adults in household, could we grow 12 plants each (48 plants) in household?

David Price
Sun, 12/30/2018 - 7:32am

A person cannot possess marijuana on federal land. What about federally owned highways I-94, I-96, I-69 and I-75?

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 9:20am

Do I need a medical marijuana card to use or purchase recreational marijuana?