The mid-term elections in November saw some changes in a few states regarding marijuana laws. Michigan, Missouri, and Utah have joined the list of states that have legalized the use of marijuana (to some degree); Michigan actually became the first Midwest state to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.
The Green Wave in Full Force
It’s been dubbed the “Green Wave,” and the push for legalization/decriminalization of marijuana picked up speed in 2018 at the mid-term elections in November. Along with state legalization efforts, several Ohio cities voted to decriminalize marijuana, and both counties and cities in Wisconsin approved non-binding ballot questions calling for marijuana reform. Here are some of the highlights from just a few weeks ago:
Some Democrat governors won after making pot reform central to their campaign: Illinois Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker said, “We can begin by immediately removing one area of racial injustice in our criminal justice system … Let’s legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.” Minnesota Governor-elect Tim Walz urged voters to “replace the current failed policy with one that creates tax revenue, grows jobs, builds opportunities for Minnesotans, protects Minnesota kids, and trusts adults to make personal decisions based on their personal freedoms.”
New Mexico Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham said legalizing marijuana will bring “hundreds of millions of dollars to New Mexico’s economy.” Wisconsin Governor-elect Tony Evers supported decriminalizing marijuana, allowing medical cannabis, and allowing the voters to decide pot legalization.
As you know, federal law still prohibits the possession, use, and sale of marijuana, so be sure to know both state and federal laws before you engage in any pot-related purchases, sales, or use.
Michigan Marijuana Law
If you live in the Great Lakes State, the new recreational marijuana law allows individuals age 21 and older to purchase, possess, and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles. It also allows those 21 and older to grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption. Other provisions of Michigan state law:
- A 10-ounce limit for marijuana kept at residences; amounts over 2.5 ounces be secured in locked containers
- The creation of a state licensing system for marijuana businesses, including growers, processors, transporters, and retailers
- Allow municipalities to ban or restrict marijuana businesses
- Permit commercial sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles through state-licensed retailers, subject to a new 10% tax specifically earmarked for schools, roads, and municipalities where marijuana businesses are located.
In Michigan, commercial sale of marijuana is not going to happen any time soon; if you’re looking to start a cannabis business in Michigan, you likely will not be able to do so until 2020.
Missouri Marijuana Law
Even though Missouri still has some of the toughest marijuana laws in the nation, voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in 2018 (enacted on Dec. 6, 2018), but licensing and dispensaries will take much longer to be up and running.
In Missouri, first-time offenders who possess up to 10 grams may be subject to a fine of up to $500 but will not face jail time. Sentences for people convicted of sales, trafficking, or cultivation are much stiffer, however. You may be sentenced to as many as seven years in prison for selling less than five grams of marijuana. Selling 30 or more kilograms can get you a life sentence; penalties for cultivation are based on the weight of the plants.
This sobering slice of Missouri law should be the wake-up call people need to learn the laws in their state and to always remember that federal laws regarding marijuana have not changed. Before you use, possess, or sell marijuana, do the research and be sure you fully understand what you can and cannot do where you live, and what the penalties are for breaking marijuana laws in your state.