Michigan Marijuana Business Guide
Operating a Marijuana Business in Michigan. Although medical marijuana use in Michigan is legal, recreational pot use has yet to be decriminalized throughout the state save for several cities that decriminalized marijuana within their city limits years ago. Michigan also has unusual marijuana laws involving separate penalties for using pot or possessing pot. For example, being caught in possession of just one gram of pot is a misdemeanor that could land a person in jail for one year, not to mention being fined $2000. Alternately, using marijuana, i.e. smoking a joint but not having any on your person that is packaged, is a misdemeanor bringing a $100 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
Cultivating no more than 20 plants is considered a felony with possible sentences of four years in state prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Individuals caught growing more than 200 plants are looking at nearly 20 years in prison and huge fines.
Michigan’s Pro-Pot Cities
Ann Arbor decriminalized pot in 1972 and currently imposes a small fine of $25 for those caught with two ounces or less. Grand Rapids has pot laws similar to Ann Arbor that makes possession of small amounts of pot a “civil infraction”.
Detroit passed Proposal M in 2012 which exempts anyone over 21 years of age from being arrested for having one ounce or less of pot on private property. Flint residents have also voted to decriminalize marijuana by allowing people older than 19 to possess less than one ounce of pot without being jailed or heavily fined. Finally, Ypsilanti voters have agreed to decriminalize pot possession by making the use and possession of pot “the lowest priority of law enforcement personnel”.
Medical Marijuana is Alive and Well in Michigan
Nearly 65 percent of Michigan voters approved medical marijuana use in 2008, allowing individuals with chronic diseases to smoke marijuana as a way to relieve painful symptoms associated with arthritis, autoimmune disorders, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma and HIV/AIDS. Patients or caregivers of patients are legally allowed to have up to 12 plants (2.5 ounces) growing in a locked, enclosed facility.
Being a certified caregiver to a marijuana patient in Michigan is currently the only legal way someone may be able to operate a dispensary. Caregivers are defined as people over 21 years old who agree to help someone who may be unable to cultivate their medical marijuana due to severe medical conditions. Each medical marijuana patient is allowed to have one caregiver but qualified caregivers can assist up to five patients (Mich. Comp. Law §§ 333.26423; 333.26426(d) (2008).
Following legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan, enterprising individuals opened dispensaries that facilitated sales between patients. However, the Supreme Court of Michigan ruled that these dispensaries establishing the business of patient to patient sales in Michigan when marijuana cultivation and possession was still a felony both state and federal-wise was illegal and have shut most of them down over the past several years.
Until Michigan legalizes marijuana and institutes laws similar to Washington and Colorado that allows the legal establishment of pot shops, the only way someone may get involved with operating a dispensary in Michigan is to apply for caregiver status and abide by state laws governing its medical marijuana statutes.
- Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP) – Michigan.gov/mmp
- Michigan Medical Marijuana Association – http://michiganmedicalmarijuana.org/
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