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What's legal and what's not?

Alexander Sinn • Dec 6, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Michigan voted, and now the state’s new recreational marijuana law will go into effect today (Thursday). 

Possession, use and giving of marijuana is now legal under the new state law, but with some restrictions.

You won’t be able to buy or sell marijuana in Michigan, or use it in public places or on federal property, such as college campuses. Retail facilities are unlikely to be licensed until 2020, as the state Legislature crafts new policies and a licensing system.

We asked local law enforcement officials to weigh in on what you can and can’t do under the new recreational marijuana law:

Can I buy pot in another state where it is legal, or Canada, and bring it back?

No. Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke says marijuana remains an illegal substance under federal law, which governs interstate commerce and international borders.

Marijuana is illegal in most states, he noted, including all states geographically surrounding Michigan.

Can I buy pot from a medical marijuana dispensary without a medical card?

Medical marijuana provisioning centers are only permitted to sell to medical patients, Hawke said. Representatives from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) indicate rules for retail licenses will be established within a year, he said, but it is unclear whether medical centers will be eligible for retail licenses.

If I have a medical marijuana license, can I give marijuana to a friend?

Under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, you can transfer or give away without payment up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana to an individual age 21 or older, as long as you don’t advertise or promote the fact, Hawke said.

Can I legally obtain marijuana plants or seeds?

You can legally cultivate up to 12 plants on your premises without a specific license for growing or cultivating, Hawke said. Transferring plants will be governed by the state licensing regulations.

“Seeds are included in the definition of marijuana under the new law,” Hawke said. “Therefore, an individual can possess or give away up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana plant material or seeds.”

Up to 10 ounces may be processed on the premises, he added, but it must be secured. Plants cannot be in view of a public place and must be secured in a way that restricts access to the area, Hawke said.

Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Kempker said the county is waiting for more information from LARA as to the enforcement of marijuana seed possession.

Can I smoke pot on a college campus?

Grand Valley State University’s drug and alcohol policy includes a ban on all forms of marijuana, Kempker said, as federal law bans it from university-owned and controlled property and workplaces.

What are the penalties under the new marijuana law?

Possessing between 2.5 and 5 ounces of marijuana is considered a civil infraction carrying a fine of up to $1,000. Third and higher offenses will be misdemeanors with fines of up to $2,000.

Possession of more than twice the legal amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor charge, but it will not include jail time unless “the violation was habitual, willful and for a commercial purpose, or the violation involved violence,” the law states.

Enforcement policies don’t change when it comes to minors, Kempker said. Anyone younger than 21 will face a civil infraction of up to $100. This will include drug counseling for violators younger and 18.

Giving less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana to someone younger than 21 is a civil infraction carrying a $100 fine, while giving over 5 ounces could lead to a misdemeanor charge.

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