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Recreational Cannabis is Now Legal in the US State of Michigan

Ten years after legalising the medical use of cannabis, Michigan has become the tenth US state to legalise cannabis consumption for recreational purposes.

In a referendum held last month, Michiganders voted to legalise the possession and sale of recreational cannabis use, with 56 per cent supporting the motion. The law – which came into effect today, 6 December – allows adults (aged 21 or over) to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis outside of their home and up to 10 ounces inside their home. Cultivation of up to 12 cannabis plants has been legalised, as long as they are kept within an enclosed facility not visible to the public.

It is illegal to give cannabis to anyone under the age of 21. It also remains illegal to smoke the drug in public.

Consumers will not immediately be able to commercially purchase recreational cannabis, as there are currently no licensed retailers. Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is currently developing a legal framework to license dispensaries, and this process may take up to a year. Until then, no legal licencing will be issued to any businesses or individual sellers in the state.

Once legal sales begin, there will be a sales tax of 10 per cent upon retailers and microbusinesses selling cannabis. Revenue from this will initially be dedicated to the implementation and administration of the law. Remaining funds will be split between local governments (30 per cent), education (35 per cent), and the maintenance of roads and infrastructure (35 per cent).  Local municipalities that outlaw cannabis retail establishments will not receive any of this tax revenue.

As of 2018, cannabis has been decriminalised in multiple jurisdictions in Michigan, including the cities of Detroit and Flint. Medical use of cannabis has been legal in Michigan since it was approved by over 62 per cent of the state’s voters in 2008. Under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, qualifying patients with a written certificate from a medical doctor are permitted to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, the same amount that has now been legalised for recreational possession. Medical cannabis cannot be sold, transferred or exported to anyone in or out of the state of Michigan, other than the patient it is intended for.

As of today, Michigan joins the states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont and Washington in legalising the production and sale of cannabis for recreational purposes. Washington DC has legalised its use, but sale remains unlawful. Michigan is the first state in the Midwest USA to do so. Legal cannabis sales began in Canada in October 2018, and the new Mexican government is also considering legal regulation of the drug. A continental cannabis shift in North America appears to be taking place.

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