Marijuana legal today in Michigan

Cities face licensing decisions with legalization of pot


December 6, 2018


Marijuana is legal for adults in Michigan today as Proposal 1 officially takes effect.

The initiative was approved by 56 percent of Michigan voters in the November mid-term election.

It allows adults 21 and older to possess and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, including up to 15 grams in the form of marijuana concentrate. It also allows them to grow up to 12 marijuana plants and possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their residences, as well as any marijuana grown on the premises.

Michigan officials are in the process of establishing a regulated system of commercial marijuana cultivation and sales, expected to begin in 2020.

Michigan is the 10th state in which marijuana possession is legal for adults. It is the ninth state to authorize a system for regulating commercial marijuana cultivation and sales for adult use.

Marijuana Policy Project Deputy Director Matthew Schweich, who served as campaign director for the “Yes on 1” campaign in the state, said this week, “Michigan is the first state in the Midwest where adults will no longer be punished for possessing or growing small amounts of marijuana. This is a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society, and it’s finally going to be treated that way.

“This will allow law enforcement officials to spend more of their time and attention on serious crimes,” Schweich said.

The passage of Michigan’s marijuana measure for those over 21 is likely to lead to more marijuana use by teens, however.

A recent study shows more young people are trying marijuana for the first time in Colorado, which was the first state to allow recreational marijuana, than anywhere else in the nation.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said almost 8 percent of Colorado teens admitted to using marijuana for the first time last year, compared with 7.9 percent in Massachusetts, 7.4 percent in D.C. and 7.1 percent in Alaska, all jurisdictions with “legal” marijuana.

Past month use of marijuana doubled in “legal” states among all age groups, and was 45 percent higher in the 12- to 17-year-old category, SAMHA said.

“The effects of legalization are revealing our worst fears,” Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, president and founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and a former White House drug policy advisor, said.

“Big Pot’s profits-over-people business model is hooking more people on highly potent marijuana gummies, candies, waxes and blunts, while governments look the other way. How many lives have to be affected until we take action?” Sabet asked.

Sabet suggests, “There should be a moratorium on legalization until we can better understand what is happening. The social harms — increased stoned driving, more youth use, crime, and hospital mentions — keep piling up. We need to stop the bleeding,” he said.

Area decisions

Area communities are deciding how to respond to the mid-term vote, with Bessemer already choosing to opt out of allowing marijuana enterprises in the city. The Ironwood City Commission will discuss marijuana issues on Monday. A recent city commission work session followed a few public hearings on new marijuana laws.

The city commission voted once before on opting out of Michigan’s medical marijuana licensing act, but it failed 2-2, with one commissioner absent.

If the city commission votes to opt in, it would direct the planning commission to draft an ordinance to allow the development of medical marijuana facilities allowed by the law.

At past public hearings, there has been some support for Ironwood opting in, with possible economic benefits to the city outlined.

The benefits of marijuana to area veterans and terminally ill patients have been cited and one woman told the planning commission she enjoys sleeping now that she is taking medical marijuana, instead of pain medications.

Louis Yelich, of Ironwood, is among area residents who believe allowing marijuana operations in the city is a bad idea, however, urging an opt-out.

“Why would Ironwood citizens of a Great Country pollute the future of their children by not opting out of the recently passed Michigan law?” he asked in a letter directed toward the city commission.

Yelich believes recreational marijuana is a prelude to the “stronger need of heroin and opioids which gradually destroy the will and purpose of humanity.

“Do not destroy the principles, values and ethics of future American citizens for the excess extravagances of a few today,” he wrote.


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