MedicinalRecreationalMedicinal vs. Recreational Laws on the Use of Marijuana in Michigan


It all started with the state California legalizing medical cannabis in the year 1996 and since then, the trend has continued to spread to now 33 out of 50 US states. Of this, only 11 have legalized the total recreational use of Marijuana and this list is getting longer by the year. The federal laws still classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance: a high dependency drug with no acceptable medical use making its distribution a federal offence. This is the reason why the federal prescription of marijuana is prohibited and is usually referred to as recommendations or referrals.

Medical marijuana is the use of marijuana that has been recommended by a doctor in the treatment of a medical condition. It is not used to change the outcome of the disease but to improve the quality of life as it eases disease symptoms and make the user feel better. Recreational marijuana is used without medical justification for its psychoactive or intoxicating effects with the assumption that its occasional enjoyment is not addictive. The difference between medicinal and recreational marijuana is not restricted to its use but in many other aspects as well.


The history of marijuana use in Michigan

The law on the use of medical marijuana was passed by Michigan voters overwhelmingly in the year 2008. Although it initially faced lots of confusion and legal battles on its implementation, effective policy and responsible practice was reached in the end. After this, further legalizations were sought and in 2018, the use of recreational weed was fully legalized with recreational sales rolling out on December 1st, 2019. To the users, this was a moment to rejoicing although there are a number of communities that opted out. This is why in about 1,411 cities and townships in Michigan, the recreational sales have been banned, including Detroit. However, a good number of them intent to roll it out later after regulations and license approvals have been finalized. Until 2021, the availability of recreational marijuana dispensaries will probably be limited.


Medicinal Vs. recreational marijuana laws

The full legalization of marijuana in Michigan means that both medical and recreational marijuana can be used without criminalization.

  • Qualification

Under the MMMA act that governs the use of medical marijuana in the state of Michigan, possession of marijuana is restricted to qualifying patients that suffer from diseases and conditions that have been listed by the state. These patients apply for registration where they are issued with a card if they meet the conditions. Some of the qualifying medical conditions include Alzheimer’s, cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease and ALS among others.

The legalization of recreational marijuana is housed under the popularly known proposal 1 or RMLA act. This act was not meant to replace the existing medical marijuana laws but to provide a second regulatory structure for recreational Marijuana. What it does is allow the personal possession and use of marijuana by anyone 21 years of age or older, provide for the lawful cultivation and sale of marijuana and industrial hemp by anyone 21 years of age or older, permits the taxation of revenue from running a commercial marijuana business and outline certain penalties for violations of the Act.

  • Possession

MMMA qualifying patients are allowed to cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants as long as they are kept in an enclosed facility away from public view. In this case, incidental amounts of stems, seeds, roots and stalks are not included in the limits. Card holders are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and usable marijuana equivalents as follows:

  • 16 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solid form
  • 7 grams of marijuana infused product in gaseous form
  • 36 fluid ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form

Under the proposal 1 for recreational marijuana, those who have attained the age of 21 or older can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana outside of their homes and up to 10 ounces in their homes. Just like with medical marijuana, cultivation of up to 12 cannabis plants in their homes is legal but possession of no more than 15 grams of concentrate is allowed at any given time.

  • Consumption

Medical marijuana is allowed as long as the patients follow the provisions provided under the MMMA act. Although recreational marijuana is legal, one cannot use it everywhere. Consumption is limited to private places away from public view. Driving under the influence of marijuana is also strictly prohibited under both laws. Violators are subject to heavy civil fines or even jail terms as punishment.

  • Purchases

Dispensaries regulate marijuana sales based on laws and regulations of the local jurisdiction where the dispensary is located. The permitted amount is 2.5 ounces for both MMMA patients and recreational users although the availability of recreational sales is still limited during this early stage of roll out.

  • Transportation

The transportation of marijuana and marijuana infused products in general is now legal in Michigan. However, they should be transported in sealed and labeled packages in the trunk of the car. In case the trunk is unavailable, the marijuana should be located in a place that is not easily accessible inside the vehicle. Failure to this, the user is liable to a civil fine of up to $250.

  • Export to other states

When it comes to the export of marijuana, all forms of export either through mail, driving, shipping, boating or flying is illegal to under both the MMMA and proposal 1 laws. Medical marijuana cannot be sold or transferred to anyone from either in or outside the state of Michigan since they are meant to be used by the patient only.

In summary, the use of marijuana is decriminalized but is subject to regulation both under the MMMA and Proposal 1 laws. In both cases, possession is not a felony under any conditions. Cultivation is legal but with limitations in terms of the number of plants and the growing space. Transportation is legal while prescriptions don’t require specific medical conditions under proposal 1. The legal possession amount is also limited but the THC is not limited.

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Copyright 2020 – Michigan Marijuana Facts, a service of WSJM Inc. / Mid-West Family – Southwest Michigan