The Legal Provisions and Limitations of Legalized Marijuana in Michigan

The Legal Provisions and Limitations of Legalized Marijuana in Michigan

Shelby Smith

January 22, 2020


In November 2018, Michigan became the tenth state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana by a majority of 57 percent. Though its medical use has been legal in the state since 2008, it wasn’t until December 1, 2019 that some dispensaries across Michigan opened their doors for recreational sales. Legal access to recreational marijuana, though, remains limited throughout the state. 

For those seeking to purchase marijuana without a medical card, there are a choice few places to do so. Ann Arbor is thus far the only city in Michigan with multiple dispensaries who have licenses to sell recreationally, with three storefronts currently serving recreational users. Kathleen Gray has covered this issue for The Detroit Free Press, writing of the frustration of multiple medical dispensaries in Detroit that have applied for a recreational license and been pre-qualified, but are still awaiting final action from the state before they can open their doors to recreational patrons. People seeking to purchase without a medical card can also visit the small towns of Evart and Morenci, both of which have one storefront with a license to sell. 

With all the recent changes to the regulations regarding marijuana in Michigan, it can be difficult to know how to purchase, store and use marijuana without violating the law. So, here is a quick guide for how to consume marijuana and abide by the law if you are at least 21 years old or a qualifying medical patient. 

  1. In order to purchase from a recreational dispensary in the State of Michigan you must have a valid driver’s license or state ID.
  2. In the State of Michigan, you can personally possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana flower at a time (or 15 grams of concentrate). You can have up to 10 ounces of flower (or 15 grams of concentrate), so long as anything above 2.5 ounces is safely stored under lock and key. You can also own and grow up to 12 plants so long as they are enclosed in your private residence and not visible to public passerbys. 
  3. An important note for those users in the greater Lansing area is that possession and consumption of marijuana on the campus of Michigan State University is strictly against the law. MSU is a federally funded university and, as such, marijuana will not be legal on campus until it becomes federally legal. 
  4. Public consumption of marijuana is strictly illegal in Michigan. Consumption is only permitted on private property and out of the public eye. If you’re living on a leased property, consult your lease and your landlord to ensure you don’t violate your lease by smoking. 
  5. When travelling with marijuana within Michigan, product must either be in a sealed and labeled package, or in a space in the car which is not readily accessible to the driver from the interior of the vehicle. It is illegal to consume marijuana in a vehicle even as a passenger and even if the car is not moving, as cars are seen by the law as public spaces. Furthermore, it is illegal to transport marijuana from Michigan across state lines. 
  6. Driving while under the influence of marijuana is strictly prohibited and can lead to serious legal repercussions. 
  7. Employers in Michigan still reserve the right to have a zero tolerance policy for drugs and can drug test their current and potential employees, with possible repercussions for those who test positive for marijuana. 
  8. Additionally, the issue of CBD has become a hot topic as of late, with its sale being legalized throughout Michigan outside of dispensaries. Cannabis is made up of two major components: CBD and THC. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, while CBD is its more mellow counterpart. CBD, or cannabidiol, can be separated from THC and manufactured separately. So as long as a CBD product contains less than .3 percent THC, it is legal for sale in Michigan and available in most any drug store, gas station or online retailer. People have utilized CBD for to alleviate pain, aid stress and a multitude of other beneficial uses. 

Visit the State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website for more information on navigating the law and marijuana. 

With marijuana becoming available to a new percentage of the population, there is the question of where the supply will come from to fill this gap. Breana Noble for The Detroit News learned that businesses with licences to sell recreationally are allowed to transfer 50 percent of their product for recreational use, where it previously would all have been allotted for medical patients. Of course, given that recreational sales in Michigan just began last month, there is still much to be seen about how this system will work. 

As Michiganders become accustomed to the legalization of marijuana, the state and its businesses will attempt to work out the kinks that are sure to come up as issues of supply and price are sorted out. 


Shelby Smith is a junior double majoring in English and Professional Writing with a concentration in creative writing. After graduating, she hopes to pursue a career in the world of television writing. When not writing, Shelby can be found absorbed in a fantasy novel and a very large cup of coffee.