With key provisions within Proposition 1 taking effect on Thursday, Dec. 6, Michigan is now officially the tenth state to legalize recreational marijuana, almost 85 years to the day after the United States ended alcohol prohibition in 1933.
While the ability to walk into a store and buy marijuana is likely 16 months or more away, adults 21 and older can now possess and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, including up to 15 grams in the form of marijuana concentrate. They can also now cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants and possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their residence in addition to any grown there.
Michigan is the ninth state to create a regulated marketplace. We reached out to Gov. Rick Snyder’s office for comment on the eve of legal marijuana in Michigan, but they declined. Instead, the governor’s office put us in touch with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which will oversee the development of the state’s regulatory structure.
“Tomorrow basically starts the clock ticking for us,” LARA Communications Manager David Harns told Cannabis Now.
“We have a year from tomorrow in order to have the rules in place and license application built and ready to go. [The way] everything looks at this point, we’ll be able to meet that deadline of December 6th, 2019 to have business applications ready for prospective licensees,” said Harns.
Now that they’ve seen the cannabis industry develop across the country in nine different incubators, many with similar rulemaking timelines to Michigan, we asked Harns how much they anticipated having to reinvent the wheel in Michigan.
“It helps a little bit to have states that have gone before us that we can learn from,” he said. “However, the state of Michigan’s law is its own unique piece of legislation that was passed by the voters. So there are some things we have to work through and figure out.”
Harns noted the department will have to talk to stakeholder groups and the incoming governor’s administration to make sure everyone is moving forward in the same direction. “But that just takes time, that’s all,” Harns said. “It shouldn’t be difficult, it’s just a matter of time.”
Marijuana Policy Project Deputy Director Matthew Schweich, who served as campaign director for the Yes on 1 campaign, which saw 56 percent of Michigan voters back the winning effort last month, released a statement this week prior to the law taking effect.
“Michigan is the first state in the Midwest where adults will no longer be punished for possessing or growing small amounts of marijuana,” said Schweich. “This is a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society, and it’s finally going to be treated that way. In addition to ending the needless arrest and prosecution of thousands of adult consumers, this will allow law enforcement officials to spend more of their time and attention on serious crimes.”
Schweich also noted Michigan’s longtime progressive attitude around marijuana reform, especially given the fact that it lies in the heart of the Midwest, a part of the country that’s been traditionally slow to get the ball rolling on the topic.
“When it comes to marijuana policy in America, Michigan is ahead of the curve,” said Schweich, “It will serve as a strong example for the many other states that are currently considering similar reforms. State officials are in the process of creating the region’s first regulated marijuana market for adults, which will be the nail in the coffin for marijuana prohibition.”
The nation’s oldest marijuana reform organization, NORML, also weighed in on the law.
“This is a great day for the state of Michigan,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said in a statement. “And, as the first Midwest state to legalize marijuana for adult use, a huge step forward in the nationwide fight to end the failed policy of prohibition and incarceration and to replace it with a sensible system of legalization and regulation.”
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