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Updates To Marijuana Law In Michigan In 2020

Michigan first legalized marijuana for medical use back in 2008, broadening their laws to include the legal use of recreational marijuana in December of 2018. But despite marijuana becoming legal for recreational use by the end of 2018, limitations still applied. As a result, many businesses have chosen to hold off from selling recreational cannabis to their consumers until policies and regulations were clarified.

At the beginning of this year, we published our blog post ‘What’s new for Michigan Marijuana Laws going into 2020 ’, a post that touched upon early business registration, when people would be able to buy recreational cannabis in Michigan, and which communities across the state had decided to ban the commercial sale of cannabis.

Now, as we head into the latter part of 2020, we are starting to see changes to Michigan’s Standalone Adult-Use Cannabis License. Here’s what’s changed.

Businesses without a medical cannabis license may soon be able to sell marijuana

Previously, only businesses with a medical cannabis business license were able to apply for an adult-use permit to sell recreational cannabis; however, this may soon be about to change. Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency has announced that it is considering removing the requirement that businesses must hold a medical cannabis business license to sell for adult-use, which could open up a number of selling opportunities to other entrepreneurs.

The decision to only allow businesses with a medical-marijuana license to sell recreational cannabis was taken to give a competitive advantage to the companies that helped get the State’s medical marijuana industry off the ground. However, to address social equity issues and to promote the creation of more equity programs, this may now be lifted early.

Although the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Association has not formerly made this announcement, it is believed that the restriction could be lifted as early as November 1st this year.

What’s not changed

Sadly, as with most other states, Michigan still has a long way to go before it becomes as liberal with its policies as states such as Nevada. A quick reminder of what has not changed with marijuana law in Michigan is as follows.

Who can use cannabis in Michigan

Recreational cannabis use and cultivation is still restricted to adults aged 21 and over, and it is still illegal to use and grow in public spaces. You can legally possess up to 2.5 oz of cannabis flower out of the home in most places except correctional institutions and education establishments and this number increases to 10oz on your own property so long as anything above 2.5oz is stored securely.

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Growing cannabis in Michigan

Anyone aged 21 or over can grow up to 12 marijuana plants in their household and, what’s more, if you are growing your own then there is no upper limit to the amount of cannabis that you can possess. Growing restrictions remain much the same, and whether you decide to grow one or twelve plants, they must be grown indoors, in a secure facility and not be visible to the public. If you’re renting your property, then it’s important to check with your landlord that they are happy for you to cultivate cannabis at their property.

Buying cannabis in Michigan

As we’ve already touched upon, many businesses have been slow to take up the sale of recreational marijuana due to confusion over the legislation and business restrictions, such as the need for a medical marijuana license. At present, recreational marijuana can only be purchased from participating medical marijuana facilities within municipalities that have not voted to ban recreational sales.

Gifting cannabis in Michigan

At present, it is not illegal to gift someone of age up to 2.5 oz of marijuana; however, some businesses are using this loophole as a way to bypass the law. Because of business restrictions on the sale of recreational marijuana, some establishments are selling over-priced products that come with ‘free’ cannabis as a way to make a profit. Although gifting marijuana with purchases is not technically illegal, it is likely that this business model will change if the requirement to hold a medical marijuana license is dropped for budding cannabis entrepreneurs.

Cannabis outside of Michigan

Outside of Michigan and other legalized states, cannabis is still classed as a Schedule 1 drug in the Federal Government’s eyes. This means that users should be cautious when crossing state lines, and employers can even fire their employees ‘at-will’ if they break their workplace drugs policy.

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Michigan cannabis laws are changing slowly, and it is important to keep an eye on policies and regulations as they change to ensure that you and your business remain above board. For now, hope appears to be on the horizon for entrepreneurs looking to compete with medical marijuana facilities, but otherwise, for consumers, little has changed.

Legal Marijuana Possession Under the MMMA

MMMA refers to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. This act was passed in 2008 and allows a licensed patient to grow 12 marijuana plants on their own, or, caregivers to grow 12 marijuana plants for five patients. If an individual is a patient as well as a licensed grower, they may individually grow up to 72 plants. Caregivers cannot possess marijuana in amounts or forms that violate the MMMA. The MMMA states that qualified primary caregivers can possess up to 2.5 ounces of combined usable marijuana equivalents and usable marijuana per patient. This needs to consider any incidental amounts of marijuana stalks, seeds, or usable roots. If you want to know more about legal marijuana possession under the MMMA, or usable marijuana, contact a capable medical marijuana lawyer.

Usable Marijuana

One issue that has been litigated in Michigan relates to the definition of the term usable. In fact, legal marijuana possession under the MMMA can hinge on the usability of the marijuana. In this unpublished case, 68 plants were found all in various states of dryness.   The trial court ruled that usable marijuana does not necessarily have to be dry and ready to smoke and, thus, the 92.8 ounces of seized marijuana, not even considering the amount seized from the traffic stop, was more than the 15 total ounces defendant was permitted to possess under.”

In reviewing the trial court transcript, the Michigan Court of Appeals noted that with respect to the seized plant material from the building, the officer consistently testified that the marijuana was “green,” “wet,” “drying,” or in the “drying states.”

He testified that, from his understanding, “usable marijuana could be also completely wet marijuana.” The Court of Appeals found that “wet marijuana may, indeed, be “usable” in some circumstances, it is not “usable” for purposes of the MMMA. To be usable under the MMMA, the marijuana must be dried.”

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Amounts of Marijuana a Caregiver Can Possess

When trying to determine usable marijuana equivalents, there are a few things that are the equivalent of one ounce of usable marijuana. This includes 16 ounces in solid form of a marijuana infused product, seven grams in gas form of a marijuana infused product, and 36 ounces in fluid form of a marijuana infused product.  Marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia related to this act or used with medical marijuana by a qualified patient is not subject to seizure. In addition, caregivers can grow up to 12 marijuana plants per qualified patient, so long as the plants are kept in a secure, locked, and enclosed facility.

Each caregiver can have up to five patients, meaning they can grow a total of 60 plants.  If they are also a patient, then this increases the number to 72 plants.  This is the maximum number of plants a registered caregiver can ever grow without first obtaining a commercial medical marijuana growers license.

However, a person cannot be both a registered caregiver and a holder of a medical marijuana grower’s license. This preclusion prevents a grower/caregiver with a Class A license (allowing 500 plants) from growing 572 plants. Bear in mind that dominion and control may be enough to increase the number of plants each caregiver may possess. In a case finding that there may only be “one caregiver per crop,” the Michigan Supreme Court found that “under the MMMA, possession of marijuana occurs when a person exercises dominion and control over it.” Furthermore, that in a situation where 88 plants were found in a shared warehouse unit over which the defendant had “dominion and control” he possessed more than the 24 plants he was allowed.

Speaking With an Attorney

If you have been charged with a medical marijuana offense, get in touch with a medical marijuana attorney. Your lawyer can further explain legal marijuana possession under the MMMA. A medical marijuana lawyer can look at the facts of your case, and build a solid defense for you.