There has been a lot of celebrating in Michigan since voters passed Proposal 1 to legalize cannabis in the midterm election. But many are still wondering – when will marijuana finally be legal? While chances are low that police would waste time with marijuana arrests this close to the law going into effect, cannabis won’t officially be legal until December 6th – 10 days after the Board of State Canvassers certifies the election results.
“It’s not going to be an earth-shattering change,” said Jeffrey Hank, the East Lansing attorney who was one of the leaders of the effort to get the legalization question on the ballot. But after certification, “Adults will no longer be arrested for simple possession and use of marijuana.”
So, what really changes on December 6th? It will be legal for adults 21 and older to consume or possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis (at home), as well as being allowed to cultivate up to 12 plants at home for personal use. However, it will be quite some time before retail sales of the herb are a reality – and person-to-person sales are still illegal.
Lawmakers and The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs have a full year to prepare for the commercial industry to start up – with a deadline of December 2019 to begin accepting applications. Once applications are reviewed, it could still be months before licenses are awarded and businesses are able to start opening their doors.
Unlike other states, such as Oregon and Nevada, the medical marijuana program in Michigan has been full of legal grey areas when it comes to dispensaries – so the chances of early legal sales happening through medical shops is unlikely. However, this could also prompt legislature to act faster to get recreational sales off the ground.
Once legal sales have begun, there will be a 10 percent excise tax on all retail sales – which is not much different than in other states that have legalized cannabis. The tax revenue will be split between local governments, K-12 education and infrastructure projects.
The biggest benefit that Michigan has when it comes to getting their legal industry up and running is the fact that other states already have fully functioning industries to build off of and look to as examples. Many concerns when it comes to packaging, labeling and dosage have been addressed by other states already – which means meeting the December 2019 deadline shouldn’t be an issue for Michigan.