In Michigan, medicinal and recreational marijuana have been legalized. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act allows adults aged 21 and older and patients with qualifying medical conditions to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. Patients can legally buy up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana per day in Michigan. The monthly quota for patients is 10 ounces (284 grams). The state's marijuana law also allows adults aged 21 and older to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time with no more than 15 grams of this portion in the form of cannabis concentrate.
Michigan also allows its residents to cultivate marijuana at home for personal medical and recreational uses. Michiganders may grow up to 12 plants at home and possess the harvest of these plants, up to 10 ounces. Patients intending to grow cannabis at home must state that on their applications for medical marijuana identification cards. From plants grown for personal and recreational purposes, adults may give away small quantities of marijuana grown for personal use but must not sell them to others without a license.
Michigan legalized medical marijuana on November 4, 2008 with the passage of Proposal 1, also known as the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative or Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative. This initiative allowed seriously and terminally ill patients in the state to use and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana as long as they can obtain the approval of state-licensed physicians. However, Proposal 1 did not spell out a provision for the creation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. While some dispensaries began operating following the legalization of medical marijuana, it was not until 2016 that Michigan got a law codifying the legality of these dispensaries and provided a framework for regulating them.
Just as Michigan was the first Midwestern state to legalize medical marijuana, it also became the first one to legalize recreational marijuana. On November 6, 2018, residents of the state voted to legalize adult-use cannabis. The resulting Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA) allowed residents aged 21 and above to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in public and up to 10 ounces at home for consumption. The Act also allowed residents to grow and process up to 12 marijuana plants at home.
Medical and recreational marijuana use, possession, sales, and cultivation in the state are regulated by the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA). It is illegal to consume marijuana in public places, except for certain exemptions, in Michigan. The state only allows certified patients and adults that are 21 and older to consume marijuana and marijuana products at home and in private spaces. These locations do not include privately owned vehicles. Residents that consume marijuana in their own cars are in violation of Michigan's Drugged Driving laws.
Michigan does not approve felons to obtain medical marijuana identification cards and does not authorize dispensaries to sell medical marijuana to them. Felons can apply for, and obtain, marijuana dispensary licenses in Michigan even if they were convicted for marijuana-related offenses. However, Michigan denies felons marijuana dispensary licenses if they were convicted of distributing controlled substances to minors.
To purchase medical marijuana in Michigan, the state requires the patient to be approved for the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP) and have a medical marijuana registry ID card. Michigan requires those applying for MMMP cards to be 18 years or older. Michigan recognizes medical marijuana identification cards issued in states that have legalized medical use of marijuana. Therefore, visitors with valid medical marijuana ID cards can purchase medical cannabis in Michigan as long as they also present their photo IDs to confirm their identities and ages. To buy recreational marijuana in Michigan, a resident can visit any of the dispensaries providing adult-use cannabis with a valid ID card to show that they are 21 years or older.
Since legalization, medical and adult-use marijuana has improved Michigan's economy by bringing additional revenue from taxes and licensing fees and by providing new jobs in the state. According to a 2022 cannabis industry job report, Michigan ranked third in the nation by the number of people employed in its marijuana industry. As of January 2022, 31,152 people worked in marijuana establishments in the state. More than 13,000 new employees joined the cannabis industry in 2021 thanks to an 81% cannabis sales growth experienced in the same year.
The CRA monthly statistical reports reveal details of sales figures and licensing revenues for marijuana in the state. In the October 2021 reports, Michigan generated over $1.5 million from licensing fees from medical marijuana dispensaries and growers; over $5.6 million from licensing fees from recreational marijuana. Licensing revenues generated in October 2022 include $507,746 through the Medical Marijuana Facility Licensing and $3,894,154 through the Adult-Use Establishment Licensing. While the state spends some of the revenue from licensing fees to administer its marijuana programs and enact marijuana laws, the cost of administration has always been lower than the revenue generated from licensing and renewal of marijuana establishments in the state
Michigan charges a 10% sales tax on marijuana products sold in licensed dispensaries. This is in addition to the state's regular 6% sales tax. In the first 13 months following legalization of adult-use marijuana, the state generated about $83 million in tax revenue from marijuana sales. In the second half of 2020, the state generated an estimated $9 million each month from marijuana taxes. This monthly tax revenue has increased since then. With total marijuana sales for June 2021 topping $150 million, Michigan made $24 million in taxes from medical and adult-use marijuana. Here is an overview of tax revenue generated according to reports from the Michigan Department of Treasury.
|Fiscal Year||Total cannabis sales||Tax Revenue||Revenue including license fees||Total number of licensees|
Industry watchers estimate that the Michigan marijuana market will pull in $3 million annually in sales when it fully matures. A study conducted by the Anderson Economic Group reveals that Michigan's marijuana market in 2020 totaled $3.2 billion. The report notes that much of the state's cannabis sales still happens in illegal marketplaces. Legalization of recreational marijuana and maturity of the industry will help the state capture most of the revenue lost to illicit sales.
Michigan does not publish annual data for marijuana arrests but some of these are available from third-party sources. Arrest data provided by the Michigan State Police indicate that the number of marijuana arrests grew slightly following the legalization of medical marijuana in the state in 2008. However, by 2012, the arrest rate returned to 2008 level with 21,898 marijuana-related arrests recorded. Over the next three years, marijuana arrest figures grew slightly and then stabilized around 24,000 per year. It accounted for about 9% of total arrests in the state and two-thirds of all arrests for violation of controlled substances in 2015.
It is possible to infer how legalizing adult-use marijuana affected marijuana arrest rate in the state by comparing the annual figures for violation of controlled substances provided by the Michigan State Police prior to and after 2015. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of drug-related arrests went down slightly from a peak of 36,686 in 2015 to 30,829 in 2018. Drug arrest rates dropped sharply in 2019 following the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2018. In 2019, law enforcement only recorded 13,639 drug-related arrests in the state. This shows that legalizing cannabis reduced drug-related arrests, especially for arrests relating to the possession of marijuana.
According to the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), Michigan saw 570 drug arrests in 2020, of which 5% were marijuana-related. In 2021, the number fell slightly to 507, of which 4% were marijuana-related.
Before the marijuana use and possession were legalized in the entire state, some municipalities were already relaxing cannabis prohibition and awarding smaller fines for those caught in possession of marijuana. The most notable example is Ann Arbor. The city is credited with the most lenient marijuana laws in the country even in the 1970s. A 1972 city council decision backed by a 1974 voter referendum made possessing small amounts of marijuana in Ann Arbor a civil infraction rather than a felony. A 2004 referendum relaxed the rules further for medical marijuana use.
Other cities and towns of Marijuana that decriminalized marijuana or, relaxed the enforcement of the state's cannabis laws, enacted their reforms after the legalization of medical marijuana in the state but before recreational marijuana was considered legal. These municipalities include :
Grand Rapids (2012)
Hazel Park (2014)
Oak Park (2014)
Huntington Woods (2014)
Mount Pleasant (2014)
Pleasant Ridge (2014)
Port Huron (2014)
East Lansing (2015)
Keego Harbor (2015)
Initiatives to legalize medical and recreational marijuana passed in Michigan at their first attempts and were driven by clear popularity among voters. When the state passed Proposal 1 in 2008 to legalize medical marijuana, the initiative passed with 63% of the vote despite opposition from the state's law enforcement officials and John P. Walters, a drug czar and once Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
An omission in the wording of the initiative meant that the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative did not clarify the legitimacy of medical marijuana dispensaries. Even then, up to 100 dispensaries were reported to be operational when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the 2008 initiative did not authorize the creation of marijuana dispensaries. This oversight was corrected in 2016 when Governor Rick Synder signed bills that legalized medical marijuana dispensaries, established a 3% tax on medical marijuana in the state, and provided the framework for regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan.
Supporters of recreational marijuana got the requisite number of signatures to get the question of fully legalizing marijuana in Michigan on the 2018 ballot. This initiative, also known as Proposal 1, went by the official title of Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. Michigan lawmakers declined to legalize recreational marijuana and rather opted to have the question decided in the November 2018 ballot. On November 6, 2018, recreational marijuana was legalized and won 56% of the vote to make Michigan the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana use.