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Cannabis in Michigan

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Michigan's Cannabis Universal Symbol

Cannabis in Michigan is legal for recreational use. A 2018 initiative to legalize recreational use (the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act) passed with 56% of the vote. State-licensed sales of recreational cannabis began in December 2019.

Medical use was legalized in 2008 through the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative. It passed with 63% of the vote.


Before cannabis was legalized in the state, possession of any amounts was a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year's incarceration and a $2,000 fine, while actual use was punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine. If possession was in a public park, the sentence was at most two years and a $2,000 fine. Distributing cannabis without remuneration was a misdemeanor punishable by at most one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.[1] The sale and cultivation of cannabis was a felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and $10,000,000 in fines depending on the number of plants grown and the amount of usable cannabis sold.[1]

After legalization, police in Michigan still have probable cause to search an occupied car if they smell of marijuana.[2] This is because certain prohibitions remain, for example it is still illegal to consume marijuana as the driver of a car, or smoke it as a passenger.[3]

Municipal reforms[edit]

Prior to statewide legalization, many cities in Michigan decriminalized cannabis or made enforcement of cannabis laws the lowest priority. Among the cities to enact such reforms were: Ann Arbor (1972), Kalamazoo (2012), Detroit (2012), Flint (2012), Grand Rapids (2012), Ypsilanti (2012), Ferndale (2013), Jackson (2013), Lansing (2013), Hazel Park (2014), Oak Park (2014), Berkley (2014), Huntington Woods (2014), Mount Pleasant (2014), Pleasant Ridge (2014), Port Huron (2014), Saginaw (2014), East Lansing (2015), Keego Harbor (2015), and Portage (2015).[4]

Ann Arbor[edit]

Since the 1970s, the college town of Ann Arbor has enacted some of the most lenient laws on cannabis possession in the nation. These include a 1972 city council ordinance, a 1974 voter referendum making possession of small amounts a civil infraction subject to a small fine, and a 2004 referendum on the medical use of cannabis. Since state law took precedence over municipal law, the far-stricter state cannabis laws were still enforced on University of Michigan property.

Medical legalization (2008)[edit]

Medical use of cannabis was legalized with the passage of Proposal 1, the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative, on November 4, 2008.[5] The measure legalized the possession of up to 2+12 ounces (71 g) of cannabis for patients with certain medical conditions and the approval of a physician.[6] Although it did not explicitly allow dispensaries to operate,[7] it did allow patients or their caregivers to cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants.[6] The measure faced opposition from law enforcement officials and drug czar John P. Walters,[8] but it was ultimately approved by a 63–37 margin, making Michigan the 13th state to legalize medical use and the first Midwestern state to do so.[9]

In February 2013, the Supreme Court of Michigan ruled that the 2008 initiative did not allow for the operation of medical cannabis dispensaries in the state. An estimated 75 to 100 dispensaries were operating under this legal gray area at the time.[10]

In September 2016, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a package of bills that among other reforms: (a) allowed the operation and regulation of medical cannabis dispensaries; (b) set a taxation rate of 3% on medical cannabis; and (c) allowed the use of non-smokable forms such as topicals and edibles.[11][12][13]

Recreational legalization (2018)[edit]

In November 2017, legalization proponents submitted 365,000 signatures to put a cannabis legalization measure on the 2018 ballot.[14] In April 2018, it was certified that supporters had turned in the requisite number of valid signatures.[15] In June 2018, state lawmakers declined the option to pass the measure themselves, sending it to the November ballot.[16] On November 6, 2018, Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 by a 56–44 margin, making Michigan the 10th state (and first in the Midwest) to legalize cannabis for recreational use.[17]

The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act allows persons age 21 and over to possess up to 2+12 ounces (71 g) of cannabis in public, up to 10 ounces (280 g) at home, and cultivate up to 12 plants at home.[18] It also sets up a system for the state-licensed cultivation and distribution of cannabis, with sales subject to a 10% excise tax (in addition to the state's 6% sales tax).[17] The law went into effect on December 6, 2018,[19] and the first dispensaries opened to the public on December 1, 2019.[20]

During fiscal year 2021, the state of Michigan collected $175 million from a 10% excise tax on recreational cannabis sales. That money was given back to counties, towns, cities, and townships, each municipality receiving over $56,000 for every recreational retail location in its boundaries.[21]

In October 2023, cannabis reform bills were signed into law by the Governor Gretchen Whitmer, explicitly allowing tribal businesses easier access to cannabis commerce and trade, as well as other related purposes in and around tribal lands.[22][23]

Public opinion[edit]

Public opinion on the legalization of recreational cannabis in Michigan
Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
% support % opposition % Undecided/Don't Know
Marketing Resource Group[24] 2016 600 LV ± 4.0% 53% 42% 5%
Marketing Resource Group[25] September 9–14, 2015 600 LV ± 4.0% 46% 46% 8%
Marketing Resource Group[26] April 13–17, 2015 600 LV ± 4.0% 51% 46% 3%
EPIC-MRA[27] December 10–14, 2014 600 LV ± 4.0% 50% 46% 4%
Marketing Resource Group[28] October 6–10, 2013 600 LV ± 4.0% 41% 55% 4%

Note: For polls after 2016, see Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act.


  1. ^ a b "Michigan Laws & Penalties". NORML. Archived from the original on September 10, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  2. ^ "People v. Moorman, 331 Mich. App. 481". casetext.com. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  3. ^ "Michigan Legislature - Section 333.27954". www.legislature.mi.gov. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  4. ^ "Michigan Local Decriminalization". NORML. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  5. ^ "Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative, Proposal 1 (2008)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Satyanarayana, Megha (October 25, 2008). "Is Marijuana Good Medicine?". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  7. ^ "Michigan voters approve medical marijuana measure". mlive.com. Associated Press. November 5, 2008. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  8. ^ Smith, Phillip (October 17, 2008). "Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative Faces Organized Opposition". stopthedrugwar.org. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  9. ^ State-By-State Medical Marijuana Laws (PDF), Marijuana Policy Project, December 2016
  10. ^ "Michigan: Court Rules That Cannabis Dispensaries Are Not Permitted Under State's Medical Marijuana Act". NORML. February 14, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  11. ^ Egan, Paul; Laitner, Bill (September 14, 2016). "Bills to regulate medical marijuana headed to Snyder". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  12. ^ "Michigan: Legislation to Regulate Medical Marijuana Program Heads to Governor Snyder". NORML. September 16, 2016. Archived from the original on October 7, 2019. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  13. ^ "Michigan's Revised Medical Marijuana Law". Marijuana Policy Project. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  14. ^ Kathleen Gray (November 29, 2017), "Group ready to fight plan for legalized pot in Michigan", Detroit Free Press
  15. ^ Gray, Kathleen (April 26, 2018). "Michigan approves marijuana legalization vote for November". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  16. ^ Gray, Kathleen (June 5, 2018). "Voters will decide marijuana legalization after Legislature fails to act". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Angell, Tom (November 6, 2018). "Michigan Voters Approve Marijuana Legalization". Forbes. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  18. ^ Gray, Kathleen (November 7, 2018). "Legal marijuana in Michigan: What you need to know". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  19. ^ Gray, Kathleen (December 6, 2018). "Recreational marijuana is officially legal in Michigan today". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  20. ^ Breana, Noble (December 1, 2019). "High time: Michigan begins recreational marijuana sales 13 months after vote". The Detroit News. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  21. ^ "See how much Michigan communities will receive from $172 million in 2021 recreational marijuana tax". mlive. March 28, 2022. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  22. ^ Adlin, Ben (October 20, 2023). "Michigan Governor Signs Bills Allowing Marijuana Commerce With Tribal Businesses". Marijuana Moment. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  23. ^ Schiller, Melissa (October 24, 2023). "Michigan Governor Signs Legislation to Allow Cannabis Compacts Between State, Tribes". Cannabis Business Times. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  24. ^ Marketing Resource Group Archived February 7, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, May 2017
  25. ^ Marketing Resource Group, September 2015
  26. ^ Marketing Resource Group, April 2015
  27. ^ EPIC-MRA Archived July 10, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, January 2015
  28. ^ Marketing Resource Group, October 2013