On November 6, 2018, Michigan became the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational cannabis and the 10th state to take that leap overall. Proposition 1 authorized the creation of the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation, the regulatory authority responsible for overseeing the implementation of medical and recreational cannabis laws.
The work is not done—pro-cannabis legislators and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) are pushing several bills including legislation that would expunge criminal records with those convicted of cannabis-related crimes, require warning labels on medical cannabis products, and ease transportation restrictions.
There’s also one huge obstacle for recreational users: the lack of cannabis retail stores selling actual pot. Recreational dispensaries are likely to open in 2020, but for now, entrepreneurs are relying on Michigan’s “gifting” law and giving free cannabis to customers who purchase their merchandise. It’s a legally gray area that meets a need the current law fails to meet.
Michigan is in a state of flux—the rules are shifting from medical only to recreational inclusive, so in some cases, we just don’t know the answers. Here is what we do know for consumers, dispensaries, and producers.
For Recreational Consumers
The recreational law authorizes adults 21 years and older to possess, use, purchase, process, or transport a maximum of 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower and a maximum of 15 grams of concentrate.
Recreational users are permitted to cultivate and store cannabis in their personal residences. Adults may grow up to 12 plants and store in their homes up to 10 ounces of cannabis product created from those plants.
The law also allows adults to help each other out—the language of the legislation actually says that “assisting another person who is 21 years of age or older in any of the acts described in his section” are not unlawful. That includes gifting a maximum of 2.5 ounces of flower and 15 grams of concentrate to another adult. Here, “gifting” means that the product must be free of cost. Additionally, these exchanges must not be publicly advertised or promoted. The purchase, use, and manufacture of cannabis paraphernalia by adults 21 and older is also explicitly authorized.
Finally, the law protects cannabis consumers from being denied custody or visitation rights for behaviors authorized by the law. Basically, if you’re using pot within the constraints of the law, that can’t be used to keep you separated from your kids.
For Medical Patients
The medical marijuana law provides a few more allowances than the recreational law. Medical users can possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis at a time. The following are considered 1 ounce of usable cannabis:
- 16 ounces of cannabis-infused solids
- 7 grams of cannabis-infused gases
- 36 fluid ounces of cannabis-infused liquids
Medical patients are also allowed to grow a maximum of 12 plants and store 10 ounces of the cannabis product processed from their personal grows in their homes.
Patients with at least 1 of the following debilitating medical conditions may be eligible to participate in the medical marijuana program:
- HIV positive
- Hepatitis C
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Nail Patella
- Spinal cord injury
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Tourette’s disease
- Chronic pain
- Cerebral Palsy
- A chronic or debilitating condition that causes 1 of the following symptoms:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe and chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms
In order to obtain a medical card, a minor with a consenting guardian or an adult (18 years or older) patient must meet with a physician who is registered with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program to confirm their eligibility. They can then apply for a card online. Medical users may also designate a caregiver.
Patients are limited to 10 purchases from a dispensary each month.
Is Delivery Legal?
As of late November 2018, licensed dispensaries are authorized to deliver up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis to medical patients and up to 10 deliveries in one run.
Right now, no provisioning centers have received licensure for home delivery. The funny thing is that there is a pretty robust delivery industry operating illegally in Michigan anyway. Michigan is currently transitioning from a medical-only to an adult personal use inclusive regulatory framework. That means there is a high demand for cannabis, but very few licensed dispensaries to meet that need.
This has created the legally gray that tends to cast a shadow over the cannabis industry. Yes, home delivery is legal. But the current delivery companies are operating illegally because they have not obtained the proper licensure.
Provisioning centers are authorized to sell cannabis to medical patients. Currently, the rules for recreational dispensaries are still being developed.
Medical dispensaries must have their cannabis tested and labeled before it is sold to patients. Dispensaries are also required to track their sales and submit transactions to the state. They must also confirm that patients purchasing from their stores have current registration cards.
Alcohol and tobacco are prohibited from cannabis provision centers. Physicians may not provide medical exams or issue medical certifications for the purpose of authorizing a patient to purchase medical marijuana on dispensary premises.
Laws for Producers
Michigan offers 3 classes of grower licenses:
- A class A license authorizes the cultivation of 500 cannabis plants.
- A class B license authorizes the cultivation of 1,000 cannabis plants.
- A class C license authorizes the cultivation of 1,500 cannabis plants.
Producers can only sell their product to dispensaries through the use of secure transporters—entities that have been licensed by the state to transport cannabis. Producers do not have to use secure transporters if the producer and provision center are on the same premises.
Growers must meet these conditions to be eligible for a license:
- Until December 31, 2021, have or have as an employee someone who has experience being a registered primary caregiver for at least 2 years,
- Not be an active primary caregiver or employ someone who is an active caregiver,
- And enter all transactions, inventory, and other relevant information into the statewide monitoring system.
Find out more about Michigan’s cannabis laws here.