Well I think a congratulations is in order for not only those who have been fighting for reform, but for each and every Michigan resident who will undeniably benefit from the recent legalization of marijuana, whether they know it or not. No longer will we waste taxpayer dollars and ruin lives by locking up and penalizing non-violent Michiganders simply for having, selling, or consuming what is a harmless (if not beneficial) plant. But aside from the bigger picture of progress, what does the legalization of marijuana mean in a nutshell? Shall we celebrate by sparking up on Michigan Avenue and look forward to the day we can buy high quality, regulated pre-rolls at the corner gas station? Not so fast. Here’s everything you need to know.
When does the law go into effect?
Although you can expect law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to show less or no interest in pursuing minor possession and distribution charges, the new law does not go into effect until 10 days after the election results are certified, which should be by early December.
How much Marijuana can I have on me?
Those 21 and older may possess up to 2.5 ounces on their person and up to 10 ounces in a secured and locked container.
Where can I smoke marijuana?
You may not smoke marijuana in public, and , of course, you may not smoke or be impaired while driving. For more on driving implications, see the next question.
What do I need to know about driving under the influence or with marijuana in my system?
Government agencies have unsuccessfully sought an “easy” system for marijuana impairment based on a blood test, comparable to the per se level of alcohol. See People v Koon, 494 Mich 1, 8, 832 NW2d 724 (2013). Unlike alcohol, however, marijuana ingestion does not produce a relatively simple correlation between consumption, blood levels, and impairment (see Marijuana-Impaired Driving: A Report to Congress, NHTSA, July 2017). Because THC is a large fat-soluble molecule, its absorption rate, elimination rate, and impairment effects are not readily discerned from the results of a blood test. To say that a person “only” had 1 nanogram per milliliter (ng/ml) of THC in his or her blood at the time of a test is irrelevant; it has no actual relevance to the degree to which the person was affected while driving. THC is eliminated from the bloodstream much more quickly than alcohol but is stored in the brain tissue longer, where it is believed its psychoactive effects are produced. Thus, a person with a relatively large THC level in his or her blood might not be particularly impaired, while someone whose blood level is low might be significantly altered by the THC in his or her brain. The desired holy grail of 5 ng/ml or whatever other number is unlikely to achieve scientific consensus.
All this being said, there stands the issue of MCL 257.625(8) which currently prohibits anyone without a valid medical marijuana card from operating with any presence of a schedule 1 drug in his or her system. Although it is legal in Michigan, marijuana is still a schedule 1 drug federally. So, technically, a valid State Police Lab test showing 1 ng/ml of THC in the blood sample will be sufficient under the law to convict the person of operating while intoxicated (OWI). But don’t panic, there’s more.
As noted, the rules on operating with marijuana in one’s system are different if the person has a valid medical marijuana card; if the person has a card, the prosecution must prove that the person was under the influence, not just that there was the presence of active THC in the person’s system. Koon, 494 Mich at 7–8. To pursue such a case, the prosecutor will likely be focusing on indications of how the driver was affected by the drugs the person had ingested (e.g., delayed reaction time, inability to multitask, etc.), and how those outward indicators would represent themselves in the basic tasks of driving (staying in one’s lane while maintaining a safe speed with an awareness of traffic in all directions along with traffic control devices and signs, etc.). We cannot say for sure until prosecutors and courts begin to adapt to the new law, but the logical course of action seems to be to stick to this Koon standard now that a medical marijuana card is not necessary to legally have THC in your system. Look for future postings as the law changes.
How will a police officer know that I am impaired while driving?
A new saliva test, the rules of which are outlined in MCL 257.625, has been implemented in the following counties; Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair, and Washtenaw. The most important things to know about these tests is that they must be administered by a certified drug recognition expert (DRE), and refusal to take the test is only a civil infraction and cannot be used as evidence of guilt.
Can I grow my own plants without being a medical marijuana caregiver?
Yes, all residents 21 and older may grow up to 12 plants in their home. Under the proposal, marijuana plants cannot be visible from a public place “without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids or outside of an enclosed area equipped with locks or other functioning security devices that restrict access to the area.”
When and how can I buy or sell it in the store?
Those business owners who wish to sell marijuana in a store must apply for a license the same way medical marijuana dispensaries do now. Those familiar with the licensing of medical marijuana businesses know that this is a long and arduous process. You can expect the same for recreational licenses which are expected to be given out by mid-2020. Like medical marijuana commercial licenses, it will be up to individual municipalities to decide if they want to distribute licenses and how many.
Can I loose my job if marijuana is found in a drug test?
Yes!! Landlords can still prohibit smoking and growing plants on their properties and employers can still do pre-employment and random drug tests on employees and maintain zero tolerance policies for their employees. Employers can refuse to hire, fire or discipline employees who test positive for marijuana. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t fight it! Tell us your story
Specifically, the proposal states that, “This act does not require an employer to permit or accommodate conduct otherwise allowed by this act in any workplace or on the employer’s property,” the ballot proposal reads. “This act does not prohibit an employer from disciplining an employee for violation of a workplace drug policy or for working while under the influence of marijuana. This act does not prevent an employer from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against a person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of that person’s violation of a workplace drug policy or because that person was working while under the influence of marijuana.”
Will the rules for recreational marijuana be the same as medical marijuana?
Recreational pot will probably be subject to some different regulations. In Colorado, dispensaries that carry both medical and recreational marijuana are located in the same building, but are separated by locked doors. And marijuana for medical use can have higher THC levels — the psychoactive agent that produces the “high” for users — than recreational pot. It took Michigan’s licensing agency about eight months to develop the rules for medical cannabis once the new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation was up and running in April 2017. Since then, the bureau has made many modifications to those rules. Because much of the regulations and licensing infrastructure is already in place, “there’s potential for things to happen a lot quicker for the recreational market,”
What about people who have marijuana convictions?
There is a bill pending in the Legislature to require judges to consider expunging the records of people convicted of many misdemeanor marijuana offenses that will no longer be crimes under the marijuana legalization. But it’s uncertain whether that would be taken up in the Republican-controlled Legislature before this legislative session ends in December. The new governor — Democrat Gretchen Whitmer — also could consider pardoning some criminal offenders. She has said she would favor some sort of expungement or clemency for low-level marijuana offenses. Whitmer will replace GOP Gov. Rick Snyder on Jan. 1 and “will start taking a look at (marijuana crime expungement) and making some decisions and taking some action early next year,” she said.
Spokesman Zack Pohl said “a legislative solution is probably the most likely avenue” for expunging low-level marijuana convictions. Whitmer will work with a Republican-controlled Legislature, and it’s not yet clear whether lawmakers will have any appetite to take up the issue.
In other states where legalization has passed, California, Colorado, Maryland, New Hampshire and Oregon have taken steps to make it easier for people to get their convictions sealed or expunged.
Stay tuned for updates on the law and as always, if you find yourself facing charges related to marijuana or other controlled substances, CONTACT US TODAY, so we can get ahead of the charges and make sure your rights are protected.