New Michigan Marijuana Law
December 6, 2018
Recreational marijuana will become legal on Dec. 6, ten days after 56% of Michigan voters said yes to the marijuana legalization initiative (Proposal 1) in the November midterm election. The new guidelines take effect under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of marihuana* Act (MRTMA).
Although the possession and use of recreational marijuana is now legal (under certain conditions) under Michigan marijuana law, it may be more than a year until it is commercially available due to numerous issues regarding licensing of sellers and dispensaries that need to be clarified and resolved by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
What Is Legal Under the New Michigan Marijuana Law?
The biggest change is that adults (over the age of 21) may now grow, possess and consume marijuana in their own homes. Smoking marijuana or consuming edibles in public places is prohibited.
The act does not pre-empt employers’ policies regarding drug use in the workplace. Employers may still discipline or fire employees who use marijuana on the job, come to work under the influence or otherwise violate workplace drug policy. They may also refuse to hire prospective employees who test positive for marijuana or have a history of illegal drug use.
For those under the age of 21, using or possessing marijuana under any circumstances, with the exception of those with medical marijuana licenses, is illegal. Anyone under 21 who is caught using marijuana, including edibles, is subject to arrest and prosecution under current laws prohibiting the use of illegal drugs.
What Does the New Michigan Marijuana Law Mean for Drivers?
Drugged driving in Michigan is still against the law; therefore, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. This includes any kind of automobile, truck or SUV, aircraft, snowmobile, off-road recreational vehicle or motorboat. It also includes motorcycles, which are technically not considered motor vehicles under Michigan auto law. This applies to smoking or consuming marijuana edibles.
It is also illegal for passengers to smoke marijuana or consume edibles while riding in a vehicle.
Transporting marijuana, marijuana products, accessories and plants is legal. Individuals can have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana on their person.
Chief Michael Patton of the West Bloomfield Police Department cautions motorists who are transporting marijuana and/or accessories to keep the products sealed and stored in a secure location, such as the trunk of the vehicle.
“It’s the prudent thing to do,” he said.
Police officers will follow the same basic protocol they do now when determining whether to pull over a driver who appears to be impaired. There are currently no effective tests to measure whether a driver is high from marijuana, so police may administer a field sobriety test, similar to those used for alcohol impairment, or ask a driver to submit to a blood test.
Under Michigan’s “implied consent” law, refusing to submit to a chemical test for drugs or alcohol may result in an automatic penalty of six points and a driver’s license suspension of up to a year.
Penalties for Drugged Driving
Under Michigan marijuana law, the penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana are similar to those imposed for drivers convicted of drunk driving.
A conviction for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will almost certainly result in a substantial increase in your auto insurance premiums, especially if your driver’s license was suspended.
“We encourage drivers to continue to follow safety precautions regarding marijuana, just as they should do with alcohol,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “If you have been smoking marijuana or consuming edibles, do not get behind the wheel. Choose a designated driver or call a ride service.”
Auto accident law is complicated, but finding the right attorney is simple.
Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
* In Michigan law, “marijuana” is spelled “marihuana.” While both spellings of the word were common after the Spanish-American War, the federal Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 solidified the “h” spelling for future legal language.