The facts about the recreational marijuana proposal


Recent polling suggests Michigan’s recreational marijuana proposal (Proposal 18-1) is likely to be approved at the Nov. 6 general election. Whether or not the polling is correct, the public should acquaint themselves with the details of the proposal — to make an informed decision about whether to vote for or against it and to understand the implications if it becomes law.

To that end, provided below are answers to a number of common questions about Proposal 18-1.

Would Proposal 18-1 legalize the recreational use of marijuana?

Yes, but only under state and local laws. Under federal law, the possession, use, consumption, sale, processing and/or transportation of marijuana would continue to be illegal, and would continue to be subject to the criminal penalties prescribed by federal law.

How would individuals be permitted to use marijuana under Proposal 18-1?

Adults 21 years of age or older would be permitted to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles, and grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption, without penalty under state or local laws. There are, however, some important limitations, including the following:

  • Outside of a person’s residence, the quantity of marijuana that could be possessed, consumed or transported would be limited to 2.5 ounces, provided that not more than 15 grams of the marijuana could be in the form of a marijuana concentrate.
  • A person could not store more than 10 ounces of marijuana and marijuana products at his or her residence. In addition, amounts over 2.5 ounces would be required to be stored in a container or area equipped with locks or other security devises.
  • The consumption of marijuana in a public place would be prohibited.
  • The possession or use of marijuana on the grounds of a public or private school, from preschool through grade 12, would be prohibited.
  • The proposal does not require employers to accommodate marijuana use in the workplace, and allows employers to enforce workplace drug policies relating to marijuana.
  • The proposal does not authorize the consumption of marijuana, or being under the influence of marijuana, in a motor vehicle or in other types of licensed vehicles.

Are there penalties for violating the possession limits of Proposal 18-1?

Yes, but most violations are classified as civil infractions, subject only to a fine. However, the proposal includes criminal misdemeanor penalties for certain more serious violations.

Does Proposal 18-1 allow commercial businesses for recreational marijuana?

Yes. The proposal requires the state to develop a licensing program for various types of commercial recreational marijuana establishments, including growers, processors, retailers, microbusinesses, secure transporters and safety compliance facilities.

What if I don’t want recreational marijuana establishments in my community? Is there anything I can do to prohibit them?

Yes, but it would require proactive measures by the governing board of your community, or by the voters in your community.

Proposal 18-1 creates an “opt out” scheme for recreational marijuana businesses, meaning that state-licensed recreational marijuana establishments would be permitted in a municipality, unless the governing board of a municipality “opts out” by adopting an ordinance to expressly prohibit them. Therefore, if you do not want these types of businesses in your community, you should contact the members of your local governing board and ask them to adopt an ordinance prohibiting recreational marijuana establishments.

Alternatively, Proposal 18-1 creates a right of local initiative. Specifically, individuals may petition to initiate an ordinance that would completely prohibit marijuana establishments within a municipality. If such a petition is signed by qualified electors of the municipality, in a number greater than 5 percent of the votes cast for governor in the municipality in the last gubernatorial election, the ordinance must be placed on the ballot at the next general election for approval or rejection. Thus, if your governing board fails to prohibit recreational marijuana establishments, the voters can nonetheless implement a prohibition through the initiative process.

It is important to know, however, that the local initiative process also works the other way, meaning that individuals may petition for an ordinance that would allow recreational marijuana establishments within a municipality. Thus, no matter what the governing body of a municipality might decide about prohibiting or allowing recreational marijuana establishments, the voters can compel a different result through the initiative process.

How quickly do municipalities need to act if they want to prohibit recreational marijuana establishments in their jurisdiction?

Municipalities have a reasonable amount of time to respond to Proposal 18-1 if it is approved by the voters. Under the terms of Proposal 18-1, the state is not required to begin accepting applications for most recreational marijuana establishments until one year after its effective date (if approved, Proposal 18-1 would take effect 10 days after the results of the election had been certified, and so the one-year deadline for the state to begin accepting certain applications would likely be in mid- to late-November 2019). However, there is nothing that would prohibit the state from deciding to accept certain applications sooner. Therefore, municipalities should not unreasonably delay in the adoption of an appropriate ordinance. The most proactive approach would be to adopt an ordinance before the Nov. 6 election, with terms indicating that it will become effective only if and when Proposal 18-1 takes effect.

These are the facts about Proposal 18-1. Be sure to exercise your right to vote on Proposal 18-1 with these facts in mind.

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Ronald Redick is an attorney at Mika Meyers' Grand Rapids office. Ron practices primarily in the areas of municipal, appellate and administrative law, with a focus on zoning litigation, land use and riparian rights litigation and general civil litigation. He entered the practice of law after working 10 years as a project manager at an engineering and environmental consulting firm. He speaks annually at seminars on Michigan land use and zoning laws and has conducted additional seminars for planners and municipal officials on numerous municipal topics. Ron is a graduate of the University of Michigan, with class honors, and Thomas M. Cooley Law School, summa cum laude. Ron is a trustee for Grand Haven Township, which is a new position he entered after serving 13 years as chairperson of the Township Planning Committee.