By Wes O’Donnell
Editor-in-Chief, Best Michigan Magazine
On Tuesday, November 6th a solid majority of Michigan voters voted “Yes” on Prop 1, legislation that makes recreational marijuana possession and usage legal for Michigan residents over the age of 21.
Michigan will become the 10th state in the nation and the first in the Midwest to legalize marijuana for recreational use, joining California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and Washington, D.C.
But don’t celebrate just yet. A few things have to happen first:
The Law Isn’t in Effect Yet
The results of the election have to be certified by the Board of State Canvassers. By law, this certification must be completed by November 26. Ten days after the results are certified, adults over the age of 21 will be able to consume marijuana in their homes and possess 2.5 ounces on their person or 10 ounces in their home.
Retail Shops Probably Won’t Open Until 2020
Under the new law, the state must start licensing businesses by 2020. It will likely take most of 2019 for state officials to develop new rules and regulations for shops wanting to open and sell marijuana products. Having said that, recreational marijuana should be a boon for job growth and entrepreneurs. Recreational marijuana doesn’t just mean retail shops; there is an entire support structure that must be in place from labs to secure transport businesses.
Cities and Townships Have Final Say
Despite the successful passing of Prop 1, cities and townships in Michigan can create new ordinances that ban or further regulate recreational marijuana businesses. This means you should expect some rural towns in Michigan to be “dry” in much the same way that some places are alcohol dry.
You Could Still Be Fired From Your Job
Michigan’s new law says nothing about employers. I suspect that companies all across Michigan are currently reviewing their drug policy. A company could still fire you after a drug test and they would NOT be in violation of the law. It’s worth mentioning that government contractors are required to have a zero-tolerance drug policy in order to do business with the federal government.
The State Legislature Could Still Tweak the Law
According to the Detroit Free Press, The Legislature could amend the proposal but it would take a three-fourths vote to make any changes to a proposal that is passed by the electorate. It is worth noting that three-fourths vote in both Michigan houses would be extremely difficult to achieve, but stranger things have happened. Some changes that could be considered by the Legislature:
- Tweak the section that allows for people to grow up to 12 plants in their homes for personal use.
- Instead of requiring communities to vote to opt out of allowing marijuana businesses in their towns, make it so communities would automatically be considered to have opted out unless they voted to opt in.
- Some think the 10 percent excise tax, on top of the 6 percent sales tax, is too low and would like to boost that tax. The tax in Michigan’s ballot proposal would be one of the lowest of the 10 states that have now legalized marijuana for recreational use.