In August, 2018, board members in the state of Michigan approved sixteen licenses for medical marijuana. Ongoing developments about medical and recreational marijuana in Michigan reflect other marijuana-related developments in other places of the United States and the rest of the world.
Michigan’s dealings with marijuana have been convoluted, to say the least. In 2008, 63 percent of the state’s voters approved the Michigan Medical Marihuana [sic] Act, legislation that made medical marijuana legal in the state.
It didn’t make using medical marijuana simple in Michigan, however. Individual localities in the state have had different opinions about medical marijuana use. The Michigan cities of Livonia, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Wyoming for example, passed local laws or zoning ordinances that effectively banned medical marijuana in 2009-2010. Meanwhile, many dispensaries began popping up around the state.
Throughout this time, federal memorandums and court decisions often ruled against such local dispensaries, the people who used them for medical purposes, and the people who worked in the medical marijuana industry. Confusion about the legality of medical marijuana in Michigan prompted state lawmakers to create the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act in 2016. But, facilities did not have access to the act’s applications until late 2017.
These delays are symbolic of the state’s treatment of medical marijuana in general. The confusion shows no sign of ending any time soon. According to the act, people who want Michigan marijuana licenses have to apply to the state by a certain deadline. Although hundreds of people have applied, the state had only issued those sixteen licenses by early 2018.
Michigan’s approach to recreational marijuana is also convoluted. Many organizations and Michigan citizens are interested in legalizing recreational use of the drug. State legislators could have voted to adopt (and make future changes) a recreational marijuana proposal in June 2018, but chose not to do so. This meant that Michigan voters could vote to approve this legalization in November 2018.
Will Michigan voters approve this legalization? If they do, will local ordinances and various courts uphold the voters’ wishes? Time will tell.