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How Michigan's marijuana proposal differs from Colorado law

Kathleen Gray/Detroit Free Press (TNS) • Jul 15, 2018 at 2:00 PM

There are some key differences between the ballot proposal that Michigan voters will consider in November on whether to legalize marijuana for adult recreational purposes and the law that Colorado voters approved in 2012 that made their state the first in the nation to legalize weed.

Here's a look:

Possession and growing

Michigan would allow people at least 21 years old to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana a day and grow up to 12 plants in their home. A person may possess up to 10 ounces in their home, but anything over 2.5 ounces must be stored and locked up.

Colorado allows people at least 21 to buy up to 1 ounce of marijuana a day and grow up to six plants in their home or up to 12 in a household with more than one adult. The law doesn't specify how much total one can keep at home.

Public consumption

Michigan would not allow public consumption of marijuana unless a community specifically designates a business spot for people to smoke pot that is not accessible to people under the age of 21. Violations of those rules would be a civil infraction carrying a fine of up to $500.

Colorado does not allow public consumption and Gov. John Hickenlooper recently vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature that would have allowed communities to approve "tasting rooms" for people to smoke or consume marijuana.

Driving

Michigan would prohibit consuming marijuana while operating any vehicle, aircraft, snowmobile, off-road RV or motorboat, as well as consuming in the passenger area of vehicles. No amount of marijuana in the bloodstream is acceptable if a driver is stopped for impaired driving.

In Colorado, it’s illegal to use marijuana in cars and the product must be in a sealed container if it’s being transported in a car. A person can’t drive if he or she has 5 nanograms (one billionth of a gram) or more of THC — tetrahydrocannabinol, the ingredient in cannabis that provides the high — in their system or they risk being charged with driving under the influence of drugs.

Renting

In Michigan, rental lease agreements may prohibit people from growing, processing or selling marijuana or accessories from their residences, but it may not prohibit a tenant from legally possessing or consuming marijuana in a means other than smoking.

In Colorado, landlords can prohibit their tenants from growing or using marijuana on rental property.

Marijuana businesses

In both Colorado and Michigan, municipalities may prohibit or limit the number of marijuana establishments and enact ordinances that restrict hours and signage. Business licenses available include: growers, processors, dispensaries, testing facilities and transporters.

Taxes

In Michigan, an excise tax of 10 percent on the sale of marijuana plus the state’s 6 percent sales tax will be charged. If the recreational marijuana ballot proposal passes, the 3 percent excise tax on medical marijuana is eliminated.

Colorado levies a 12.9 percent sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax on the transfer of the marijuana plant to a processor or retailer and individual communities can add taxes too. In Denver, for example, a sales tax of 3.65 percent is levied on both medical and recreational marijuana and an additional 3.5 percent sales tax is placed on recreational weed.

Tax revenues

For at least two years, Michigan must provide $20 million in marijuana tax revenues annually to one or more clinical trials approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and given to a researcher or academic institution that is researching the efficacy of marijuana to treat the medical conditions of U.S. armed service veterans and preventing veteran suicide. The remaining revenues will be distributed this way: 15 percent each to the municipality and county where a business is located; 35 percent to the school aid fund, and 35 percent to the Michigan Transportation Fund to be used for repair and maintenance of roads and bridges.

In Colorado, this is how marijuana tax revenues are distributed: the first $40 million goes to school improvement and construction projects in the state; another chunk goes to the local governments that have approved marijuana businesses and the rest goes into a Marijuana Tax Cash Fund that is used for a variety of programs.

Timing

Michigan will begin accepting marijuana business applications within 12 months after the effective date of the act, which, if passed by voters, will be sometime in early December 2019. For 24 months after the the state department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs begins to receive applications, the department may only accept applications from people who are residents of Michigan and who already have a license to operate a medical marijuana facility.

In 2012, Colorado voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana and the first businesses opened up in January 2014.

Regulating marijuana

State departments handle the licensing of marijuana businesses in both Michigan and Colorado.

Workplace rules

Despite legalization, Colorado employers can still test for marijuana and make employment decisions based on drug test results.

In Michigan, the act does not prohibit an employer from disciplining an employee for a violation of workplace drug policy or working under the influence of marijuana.

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