Marijuana in Michigan: The legal timeline

Jan 3, 2018

Credit O'dea via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0 / wikimedia.org

Marijuana in Michigan is poised to be a big story for 2018. But what its legalization means to different communities is a complex question. 

Let’s start with the legal story. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act passed back in 2008. But who could sell, grow, or transport, it was not clearly outlined. Bob Hendricks is a legal expert with Wrigley, Hoffman and Hendricks, a firm with an established medical marijuana business practice. Hendricks says after the act passed, dispensaries started popping up everywhere.

“But law enforcement didn’t like that. They didn’t read the laws allowing that and frankly the law didn’t allow that. And so there were lots of fights between the drug enforcement forces and advocates for patient access about the scope of the law.”

Several of these cases made it to the Michigan Supreme Court.

“And every time the courts got a crack at it, they construed it narrowly.”

This created problems for every end of the “legal” supply line. So the legislature finally adopted the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, effective in 2016. Just last month the applications for facilities became available.

“The purpose of the Facilities act was really to create a broad commercial capability to provide medical marijuana testing, transportation, retail sales, etc., to patients in the state of Michigan.”

On a parallel track the Marijuana Policy Project and other advocacy groups gathered 350,000 signatures last year, to get adult recreational marijuana on the state ballot this November.

“Somewhere in the high fifty percent numbers to the high sixty percent numbers of likely voters in the State of Michigan support that ballot initiative and so we will likely see that ballot initiative go before voters and we will probably see them approve it.”

So, that’s the timeline to date. Next in this Mutually Inclusive series we’ll talk to advocates on both sides, but also talk about effects this could have for people incarcerated for possession or distribution as well as the business opportunities in disinvested communities. So, stay tuned.