Legislature takes up marijuana expungement; sales to adults could begin in December
Last update: November 14, 2019
In early November, legislators in Michigan’s House of Representatives passed a package of bills designed to expand access to expungement, including for an estimated 235,000 residents with low-level marijuana convictions on their records. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation in early December. If approved, the proposals would go to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has expressed strong support for clearing marijuana records in the past.
Previously this year, Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order establishing the Marijuana Regulatory Agency within the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The new agency released regulations to steer the implementation of the 2018 voter-approved law that legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older.
The rules include several forward-thinking provisions, including the creation of licenses for on-site cannabis consumption areas and temporary events, so long as they are permitted by the local town or city government. The guidelines also address how the agency will work to promote participation in the cannabis industry by communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition. You can read a summary of the new rules here. On November 1, regulators began accepting applications for adult-use marijuana business licenses, and regulators announced that the first sales will start on December 1.
As the state continues the process of establishing its legal marijuana market, check back here and sign up for email alerts to stay informed about new developments.
Michigan becomes the 10th state to legalize marijuana for adults!
The voters of Michigan have spoken. With 100% of precincts reporting, Proposal 1 has prevailed with 55.9% of the vote. In the face of a last minute spending blitz by the opposition, the Yes on 1 campaign overcame a barrage of dishonest attack ads to secure victory by a 12-point margin.
Michigan now becomes the second-most populous state in the country to approve marijuana legalization and the first to do so in the Midwest. Thanks to the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, the support of thousands of generous contributors, and most importantly, the voters of Michigan, marijuana prohibition just suffered another huge defeat.
Marijuana Policy Project Deputy Director Matthew Schweich, who served as campaign director for the Yes on 1 campaign, expressed his thoughts on the significance of this win:
“The passage of Proposal 1 is a major milestone for marijuana policy reform in the U.S. Michigan will be the first state in the Midwest to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated for adult use. Adults will no longer be punished for consuming a substance less harmful than alcohol, and rather than having to resort to the illegal market, they will be able to access it safely and legally from licensed businesses. In addition to the public health and safety benefits associated with regulating marijuana, the state will have a significant new stream of tax revenue. Michigan is going to demonstrate that regulating marijuana works, and it will set a strong example for other states in the region and around the country.”
With Proposal 1 passing, personal possession and home cultivation will become legal for Michigan adults 21 and older 10 days after the election results are certified by the secretary of state, which is expected to happen by November 26. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) will then have two years to develop the business licensing regulations and application rules. The first adult-use marijuana businesses can be expected to open to Michigan residents by 2020.
The Michigan Medical Marihuana Program
In 2008, 63% of voters approved a medical marijuana measure spearheaded by MPP. Like other medical marijuana laws that passed prior to Pres. Barack Obama’s election (which led to the federal government adopting a hands-off approach on well regulated medical marijuana programs), Michigan’s original law provided clear protections for patients and caregivers, but did not establish regulations for the businesses that made medical marijuana available to them.
As the population of patients in Michigan grew from thousands, to tens of thousands, to over 200,000, the business community serving them also grew. Unfortunately, Michigan’s lack of regulations led to years of harm.
Earlier this year, lawmakers passed three bills that together overhaul the state’s medical marijuana program. While an improvement in many ways, it is not without its controversies, particularly for those businesses that have been operating since voters approved MPP’s medical marijuana initiative in 2008.
With the passage of the new regulatory system, changes are ahead, particularly for those cultivating or providing medical marijuana. While much of the framework created by the new law is similar to that of other states, it represents big change for Michigan’s program, which has been evolving since 2008. For a summary of many of the changes, click here.
While the new law is now technically in effect, it will take about a year before changes will be in effect. During that time, state regulators will consider, propose, and ultimately adopt the rules under which the new system will operate. There is much to be done in the months ahead!
Current marijuana laws in Michigan
Possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older. Within a residence, adults may grow up to 12 marijuana plants and/or possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana (provided that any amount greater than 2.5 ounces is stored under lock and key). Click here for a full summary of Proposal 18-1, Michigan’s legalization law.
Medical marijuana is permitted. An individual may register as a medical marijuana patient if his or her doctor certifies that the individual suffers from one or more of the following conditions:
- Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS – Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Crohn’s disease
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
- Nail Patella
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Chronic or debilitating nausea
- Severe pain and chronic pain
- Seizures (including epilepsy)
- Persistent muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis)
- Chronic pain
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Parkinson's disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spinal cord injury
- Tourette's syndrome
- Ulcerative colitis
Patients can obtain medical marijuana from their registered designated primary caregiver or grow their own.
Retail medical marijuana provisioning centers are expected to open in 2018. State regulatory officials are currently laying the foundation for the licensure and regulation of medical marijuana businesses.
Timeline of marijuana policy reform in Michigan
2008: Voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana for patients suffering from serious health issues
2016: Michigan’s legislature enacted a law expanding the state’s existing medical marijuana program to include licensing and regulation of medical marijuana businesses
2018: Michigan voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for adults