Michigan Recreational Marijuana Law
On November 6, 2018, sixty-five percent of voters in Michigan overwhelmingly passed Proposal 1, an initiative aimed at regulating marijuana like alcohol. The new recreational marijuana law became effective on December 6, 2018. The new law creates a system of cultivation and distribution through licensed growers, processors, transporters, laboratories, and dispensaries. Unfortunately, the new law is not retroactive, meaning if you were busted prior to December 6, 2018, this new law does not apply to your case.
The new law only allows recreational use by adults 21 years or older and consumption of marihuana is only allowed in private places. Landlords can prohibit smoking of marijuana, but must allow for a non-smoking alternate method of consuming marijuana. Also, the recreational law does nothing to protect employees from being terminated at work for working under the influence of marijuana or for violating a drug-free work policy.
Close to 300,000 Michigan residents already had medical access to marijuana under the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. However, those legal protections only extended to persons who had a medical need that was required to be documented by a state-licensed doctor. Under the new recreational law there is no longer a requirement that a person (over age 21) seek a medical certification to be protected from the draconian criminal marijuana laws in Michigan. If you are older than age 21 you can now possess and use marijuana without a medical marijuana card and be immune from state criminal laws. Of course, we would be remiss not to point out that there is zero protection from the federal government, which does not recognize any form of marijuana whatsoever, or from other states should you venture outside the boundaries of the state of Michigan.
Perhaps the most important takeaway from the new law is that it did NOT legalize marijuana. Instead, it took the civil infraction marijuana models from cities like Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids and turned them into a statewide rule. The Michigan recreational marijuana law did not do away with the existing criminal penalties for marijuana use, possession, cultivation, and delivery. However, what it did was create a new safe harbor that is intended to protect the vast majority of medical and non-medical casual marijuana users. In addition, those who violate the new law will now likely face civil infractions instead of criminal misdemeanors or felonies.
New laws always come with questions. How will this affect those who drive with THC in their bodies; does it trump the zero tolerance driving law how will it impact search and seizure laws; is marijuana smell probable cause for a search? These questions nad more will slowly be interpreted by the trial and then appellate courts.
Smoking Marijuana in Public.
The new law is unclear how the law applies if you are caught smoking in public. What happens if you grow marijuana plants that are not concealed from public view? The answer depends on who you ask. It is our opinion that these are both civil infractions under the new MRTMA law. However, we are aware of cases where those caught smoking in public are being charged with a criminal misdemeanor such as use of marijuana or possession of marijuana. Yes, the laws that you perhaps thought had disappeared rear their ugly head. If you are charged with smoking marijuana in public and charged with a misdemeanor or charged with any criminal offense for smoking or possessing marijuana, CALL US. Do not go it alone. A drug offense conviction can mean a 6 month or 1 year driver’s license suspension, plus you will have a criminal record that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Recreational Marijuana in Michigan.
The Michigan recreational marijuana law allows anyone age 21 or older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at any time. There is no need for a doctor certification or a medical marihuana card. Each person is allowed to cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants at their home for their personal use and can store any amount of product that comes off of their 12 plants. Any amounts over 2.5 ounces are required to be locked up. Here are the highlights of the new law at a glance:
- Allow a person age 21 years or older to possess, use, consume, purchase, transport, internally possess, or process not more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and not more than 15 ounces of marijuana concentrate.
- Allow a person age 21 years or older within their residence to possess, store, and process not more than 10 ounces of marijuana AND any marijuana produced by the not more than 12 plants cultivated on the premises.
- Allow a person age 21 years or older to cultivate up to 12 plants at their residence for personal use, except that only 12 plants can be cultivated, possessed, or processed at the residence at a time.
- Allow a person age 21 years or older to assist another person who is age 21 years or older with their possession, use, consumption, purchase, transport, internal possession, or processing.
- Allow a person age 21 years or older to to transfer or give away up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana (but not more than 15 ounces of marijuana concentrate) to another person age 21 years or older, so long as the transfer is not advertised, promoted to the public, and is done without remuneration. “Remuneration” is any form of payment, compensation, or anything given in exchange.
There are of course restrictions and prohibitions that will take you completely out of the medical recreational law and dump you back into the criminal marijuana law system. Here are the prohibitions at a glance:
- Smoking or consuming marijuana in public is prohibited.
- You cannot operate a motor vehicle, snowmobile, aircraft, boat, etc., while under the influence of marijuana.
- You cannot consume marijuana while you are operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, snowmobile, boat, etc.
- Passengers cannot smoke marijuana within the passenger area of a vehicle on a public roadway.
- Transferring marijuana or marijuana accessories to someone under age 21 is prohibited.
- No one under age 21 is is allowed to possess, consume, purchase, cultivate, process, transport, or sell marijuana.
- If you grow marijuana plants, the plants cannot be visible from a public vantage place and must be kept inside of an enclosed area with locks that restrict access.
- You cannot separate marijuana resin (BHO) by means of butane extraction or similar method in a public place, motor vehicle, or within the curtilage of any residential structure.
- You cannot possess marijuana nor marijuana accessories, nor can you use marijuana on the grounds of a public or private school, in a school bus, or on the grounds of a jail or prison.
- Any amounts over 2.5 ounces kept inside your home must be in a locked container or an area with locks that restrict access.
Penalties for Violating the Law.
Section 15 of the Act contains the penalties for violating the law. They are age and conduct specific, and can be a little hard to decipher. Some actions will take away the protection you might have under the marijuana recreational act. The penalties for some offenses are not clearly spelled out, such as smoking in public. We will try to simplify what we do know.
Possessing too Much Marihuana and You Are Over Age 21.
I. Possessing Less than Twice the Allowed Amount of Marijuana or Plants.
A person who does not commit any of the prohibited acts listed above, AND (a) possesses not more than twice the amounts allowed, or (b) cultivates not more than twice the number of plants allowed, or (c) delivers without remuneration not more more than twice the amount allowed to a person age 21 or older, or (d) possesses with intent to deliver not more than twice the amount allowed by Section 5.
First Offense: civil infraction and a fine of not more than $500 and forfeiture of the marihuana.
Second Offense: civil infraction, fine of not more than $1000 and forfeiture of the marijuana.
Third or subsequent Offense: misdemeanor, fine of not more than $2000 and forfeiture of the marihuana.
II. Possessing More than Twice the Allowable Amount of Marijuana or Plants.
A person who does not commit any of the prohibited acts, AND (a) possesses more than twice the amount of marihuana allowed, (b) cultivates more than twice the number of plants allowed, or (c) delivers without any remuneration more than twice the amount allowed to a person age 21 or older, is guilty of a misdemeanor, but shall not be subject to imprisonment unless the violation was habitual, willful, and for a commercial purpose or the violation involved violence.
No Protection at All.
The following actions strip away any protections and subject you to the existing criminal laws — just as if there wasn’t a recreational act.
- Operation of a motor vehicle, snowmobile, aircraft, boat, etc., while under the influence of marijuana.
- Consuming marijuana while you are operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, snowmobile, boat, etc., OR smoking marijuana within the passenger area of a vehicle upon a public way.
- Transferring marijuana or marijuana accessories to someone under age 21.
- Someone under age 21 possessing, consuming, purchasing, cultivating, processing, transporting, or selling marijuana.
- Butane hash oil separation (or similar method) done at a a public place, motor vehicle, or within the curtilage of any residential structure.
- Possessing marihuana or marijuana accessories OR using marijuana on the grounds of a public or private school, in a school bus, or on the grounds of a jail or prison.
Underage Possession & Use.
Underage persons (under age 21) have a special penalty section that applies to them. A person under age 21 has no protection at all from the normal criminal marijuana offenses if they commit any one of the following acts:
- Operating a motor vehicle, snowmobile, aircraft, boat, etc., while under the influence of marijuana — No Protection.
- Butane hash oil separation (or similar method) done at a a public place, motor vehicle, or within the curtilage of any residential structure — No Protection.
- Consuming marijuana while operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, snowmobile, boat, etc., OR smoking marijuana within the passenger area of a vehicle upon a public way — No Protection.
- Possesses more than 2.5 ounces or is cultivating more than 12 plants — No Protection.
Assuming the underage person has not committed one of these specified exclusions, then they are responsible for a civil infraction, forfeiture of the marijuana, and if under age 18 must complete drug education or counseling:
First Offense if OVER age 18: Fine of $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana.
Second Offense if OVER age 18: Fine of $500 and forfeiture of the marijuana.
First Offense if UNDER age 18: Fine of $100 or community service, forfeiture of the marihuana, and completion of 4 hours of drug education or counseling.
Second Offense if UNDER age 18: Fine of $500 or community service, forfeiture of the marihuana, and completion of 8 hours of drug education or counseling.
Attorney Bruce Alan Block is a Grand Rapids Michigan Criminal defense lawyer and Michigan criminal defense lawyer who has successfully handled numerous criminal cases in and around West Michigan and the greater Grand Rapids area. Call and find out more.
Charged with a marijuana crime? You need experienced help. Our Michigan Marijuana Lawyer has handled marijuana cases for over 25 years.
If you or a family member has been charged with or accused of a crime you need immediate advice from an experienced Grand Rapids criminal defense lawyer. Contact our Grand Rapids Michigan, criminal defense attorney at (616) 676-8770.
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