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.