On November 6th of last year, over 2 million Michigan voters showed up in support of legalizing recreational cannabis, voting in favor of Prop 1 and passing the ballot measure with 55% approval. The legislation that followed made possession and use of cannabis legal for residents of Michigan ages 21 and older. It took another month for legalization to actually arrive, but on December 6th, 2018, recreational cannabis officially became legal in the state of Michigan, becoming the 10th state in the United States to do so. Medical cannabis has been legal in Michigan since 2008, however, recreational use has remained illegal.
At the time, spokesman for and president of the anti-pot organization, Healthy and Productive Michigan, Scott Greenlee, commented,
“It’s going to be a difficult day and for the foreseeable months as Michigan attempts to administer this proposal that it is not prepared for and not ready to jump into.”
Multiple reports by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network show that Healthy and Productive Michigan received 99% of its funding from a Virginia nonprofit, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), another big organization opposing cannabis legalization across the country.
According to the new law, Michiganians are now legally permitted to possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis in their homes, although anything over 2.5 ounces would need to be locked up securely. Residents are also allowed to grow up to 12 marijuana plants per household.
So, cannabis is finally legal to have and use in Michigan. Buying it, however, is another story.
Hurdles In Michigan’s Legal Industry
The state of Michigan actually has until December of 2019 to start facilitating the sales of legal recreational cannabis. That means it could be another year before residents are able to begin visiting dispensaries to purchase cannabis legally. And that’s not all.
Since cannabis became legal in Michigan, however, at least 80 communities have chosen to opt out of participating in the cannabis industry, choosing instead to ban cannabis dispensaries from operating within their borders.
Said Greenlee in a later interview with the Detroit Free Press,
“We’re probably working with close to 100. And there are many more than that who are waiting for the first of the year. They’re telling us they want as little marijuana around their community as possible. And a lot of these communities would opt out of allowing people to possess it, too.”
According to Jamie Lowell, board member of MILegalize, a pro-cannabis organization that worked tirelessly to make recreational cannabis a reality for Michigan,
“All those communities have plenty of time to change their mind. Over time, I suspect many of those places that have been opting out now will come online and get with the program.”
In certain areas, residents approve of legalizing recreational cannabis, but city legislators disagree. For example, in the community of Royal Oak, 70% of voters supported the passage of Prop 1. City commissioners, however, voted 4-3 to ban businesses from selling cannabis within town limits. Said director of Community Development for Royal Oak, Timothy Thwing, “Once the state comes up with licensing guidelines, if the commission wants to revisit and opt into allowing establishments, the city might want to consider medical and recreational businesses.”