The wait is nearly over for Michigan residents eager for the state’s new adult-use marijuana law to take effect.
On Thursday, just 30 days after state voters said yes to Proposal 1, a lot of what’s been illegal about marijuana suddenly becomes legal in Michigan.
But what exactly happens? Here are answers to key questions about recreational pot in Michigan:
So on Dec. 6, I can legally own and use pot in Michigan?
Yes, if you’re in Michigan and are 21 or older, you can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana anywhere, anytime, said Josh Hovey, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. That means you could legally have it in your car, or in your bag if you drop by the courthouse on business.
But you cannot consume it in your vehicle or in public. Using pot in a public place is prohibited, as is smoking it where it’s prohibited by whoever owns or manages the property.
And while you can have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, no more than 15 grams of it can be in the form of a marijuana concentrate.
Also, the new law will allow you to possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in your home. Any amount over 2.5 ounces must be locked away.
Where will I be able to buy marijuana?
Nowhere yet, not until retail shops open sometime in 2020.
Until then, the law allows one adult to give for free up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana to another adult. Also, if you live in Michigan, you will be able to grow marijuana in your home as of Thursday.
Adult-use retail marijuana shops probably won’t open until the first quarter of 2020, according to David Harns, public information officer with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Business license applications will be available by Dec. 6, 2019, Harns said.
The law was written to facilitate adding retail cannabis onto medical marijuana businesses, in order to speed setting up the retail system, according to Hovey.
Some medical marijuana provisioning centers could open in nearby towns like Niles and Buchanan before 2020, but they would be open only to registered Michigan patients.
And whether those potential medical cannabis locations or different businesses would be able to sell adult-use marijuana would be up to the cities.
What’s the news about opting out?
Niles City Council already voted to opt out of retail marijuana sales for the time being, while Buchanan delayed a possible opt-out vote. Niles Charter Township board is expected to discuss the issue, but it’s unclear when.
If a municipality does not want adult-use marijuana businesses, the board or council has to vote to opt out of the law, Matt Bach, director of communications for the Michigan Municipal League, said.
This is the opposite of the medical marijuana commercial business law, which required municipalities to opt in if they wanted to allow the businesses.
The new adult-use law indicates municipalities could have up to a year from the law’s effective date to opt out before retail businesses might start applying for licenses, but it’s a little fuzzy.
Bach said the municipal league is advising its 520 members to consult with their municipal attorneys and decide what’s right for their town.
Niles Charter Township Supervisor Jim Stover said that since the township does not allow medical marijuana businesses, it might opt out of allowing retail marijuana businesses as well. He said the issue will be discussed before a vote is taken.
“Our lawyer hasn’t said it [opting out] must be done immediately,” Stover said.
Can I possess and use pot in Michigan if I live in Indiana?
Yes, according to Hovey. As long as you are 21 or older and are in Michigan, you can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and you can consume it, if you are not in a public place. So don’t light up in your car or in the park. When retail marijuana shops open, you’ll be able to buy at them, too, even if you are a Hoosier, as long as you can prove you’re 21 or older, Hovey said. Remember, though, that as soon as you cross the state line back into Indiana, it is illegal to possess or consume marijuana.
What about driving?
Driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance is illegal, and if your driving is impaired, police say you could be arrested, in Michigan or Indiana.
Will old pot charges be dropped?
Maybe, maybe not. County prosecutors have discretion on what to do and many are exercising it differently.
In Kalamazoo County, for instance, the prosecutor is dismissing pending cases where the alleged crime becomes legal under the new pot law.
But in Cass County, Prosecutor Victor Fitz says he will not dismiss any pending cases because the law is not retroactive.
Berrien County Assistant Prosecutor Steven Pierangeli said his office will not dismiss any current charges even after the law takes effect. Charges will be handled on a “case-by-case basis seeking a just result,” according to Pierangeli.
Can I grow it at home?
Yes. The new Michigan law allows you to grow up to 12 cannabis plants in your home. That means a maximum of 12 plants per household, not 12 plants per adult. The 12 plants are not included in the 10-ounce home possession limit, Hovey said.
Lush Lighting, south of Niles, carries agricultural supplies and equipment to cultivate all types of plants. Owners Matt and Renae Johnson are marijuana legalization advocates and can offer advice on growing cannabis.
Matt Johnson said the business has seen a 20-percent jump in sales since Proposal 1 passed on Nov. 6. But he also thinks most people who’ve wanted to grow marijuana probably already are doing so by being registered under the existing medical marijuana law.
A place like Lush Lighting can sell you the tools to start growing, but it can’t sell you the plants or seeds.