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It’s About to Be April 20th… Which Means It’s Time to Get into the Weeds of Michigan’s Marijuana Laws

It’s About to Be April 20th… Which Means It’s Time to Get into the Weeds of Michigan’s Marijuana Laws

[Editor’s note: on April 30th, 2024, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration proposed a major shift to classify marijuana as a “less dangerous” drug. ]


Along I-75 north of Toledo, and in numerous other locations statewide, you can observe countless billboards attempting to lure residents and travelers alike to visit nearby cannabis retailers – all trying to sell enticing varieties of marijuana. It’s an astounding success story that has resulted in new retail cannabis businesses literally popping up like weeds!

Indeed, since pot was legalized here in 2018, Michigan has grown into America’s second largest market for legal marijuana sales (surpassed only by California). There are so many retail cannabis stores here that some experts are even predicting we have too many to survive what’s perhaps appearing to be an oversaturated market. Regardless of those opinions, the state has invested in making recreational marijuana accessible to all adults who want to puff on a joint, use a bong, or pop some edibles. It’s as easy as checking this official map for the locations of Michigan’s numerous licensed marijuana dealers – which currently number nearly 1,000 statewide.

On a high note, pot sales can certainly generate a lot of additional tax revenue for the state of Michigan and local governments – funds which could help make a positive impact on the quality of life for everyone. For instance, from last year’s marijuana tax revenues more than $100 million went to local K-12 schools, and a similar amount was earmarked for the state’s transportation fund. Early last month local governments also received a combined tax windfall amounting to around $87 million. And the Oakland Press reports that a pot retailer just gave Madison Heights $200,000 for new “gateway” signs to welcome visitors to the city. But, on the other side of the coin, research shows that legalization of marijuana has resulted in more automobile accident fatalities wherever it has been authorized for recreational use.

Keeping these pros and cons in mind, let’s take some time to go over Michigan law as it relates to the possession and use of legalized marijuana. We’ll also cover issues that relate to the potential impact of pot on personal injury cases, especially since they can affect how the victims of accidents related to marijuana use may be affected legally.


A Brief Guide Michigan’s Marijuana Laws

As a helpful Michigan State Police document notes, marijuana use in Michigan is legal only in private locations. It is never legal to smoke weed while driving (despite the pervasive odor of pot that seems to be a fixture these days along many of the area’s roadways), while in public places, in areas where children are present (such as schools or playgrounds), or in spots under federal jurisdiction (including airports or governmental facilities).

To quote the State Police guidance on Michigan’s marijuana laws as they apply motor vehicles in the Great Lakes State: “Drivers may not operate, navigate, or be in physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, snowmobile, off-road recreational vehicle, or motorboat while under the influence of cannabis. Drivers may not consume cannabis while operating, navigating, or being in physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, snowmobile, off-road recreational vehicle, or motorboat. Passengers are not allowed to smoke in the passenger area of a vehicle upon a public way.” To sum it all up, marijuana and motors don’t mix in Michigan!

As they work to enforce the law, Michigan State Police officers will be watching motorists for cannabis impairment based on factors:

  1. Driving behavior
  2. The officer’s observations of the driver
  3. How a driver performs on field sobriety tests.

Based on these three elements, law enforcement officers may request that a driver suspected of being stoned submit to a chemical test. If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, their license will be suspended pursuant to Michigan’s implied consent law (which states that all drivers are considered to have given consent to alcohol and drug tests when they apply for and renew their state driver’s licenses).

What’s more, if you’re convicted of driving while high in Michigan, you’ll face some very stringent penalties including:

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to a $500 fine
  • License suspension
  • Six points on your driving record

Beyond that, state law provides for more severe penalties if a driver who’s convicted of operating a car under the influence of marijuana has underage passengers in the vehicle.

In addition to state laws related to motor vehicles and marijuana, Michigan also has statutes in place governing the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use. Those rules read as follows:

“Adults who are 21 or older may:

  1. Possess, use, purchase, or give away (to other adults) up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana;
  2. Within a residence, grow up to 12 marijuana plants and/or possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana (provided that any amount greater than 2.5 ounces is stored under lock and key);
  3. Possess up to 10 ounces at one’s primary residence (provided that any amount greater than 2.5 ounces is stored under lock and key); and
  4. Possess, manufacture, or purchase marijuana paraphernalia or accessories, or sell them to other adults.”


Strict Federal Laws Regarding Marijuana Are Still Active

While Michigan is one of about two dozen states that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, the same is not true concerning federal law. The Congressional Research Service reports that marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug listed under the Controlled Substances Act – and as such it’s classed alongside such highly illegal substances as heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote. That’s a big deal, since federal penalties for the use, sale, and possession of Schedule 1 drugs are stringent. While we don’t have the time or space here to outline all federal drug laws, here are a couple of examples: the federal penalty for trafficking fewer than 9 grams of LSD is not less than five years in prison; trafficking between 50 and 99 marijuana plants will get you a federal prison sentence of not less than 20 years! For more details, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has cataloged several of the most common drug trafficking penalties here. Give it a look and you’ll see just how serious the federal government is about discouraging marijuana use, sales, and possession.

While there have been some unsuccessful attempts in recent years to address the extreme disparities between state and federal laws regarding marijuana, it goes without saying that until these differences are handled it would be unwise indeed to carry any quantities of marijuana across state lines! For example, Ohio has only recently passed a referendum (called “Issue 2”) permitting marijuana use by adults, but as an Ohio State University law school resource points out there are still many questions about how the laws there might be adjusted by the state legislature, and there is currently still no way to purchase pot legally in the Buckeye State. And whatever you do, don’t take your precious stash into Indiana under any circumstances. It’s still illegal in the Hoosier State, and you can even serve jail time if you’re convicted of possessing pot in Indiana.


How Marijuana Usage Can Impact Personal Injury Cases

As we mentioned earlier in this article, fatal accidents related to legalized recreational marijuana use are on the upswing, so we can only assume that the same holds true for less-than-fatal (but still devastating) injuries caused by drivers who are unsafely operating their vehicles under the influence of marijuana. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that “marijuana use can impair important skills required for safe driving by slowing reaction time and ability to make decisions, impairing coordination, and distorting perception.”

Fortunately Michigan accident victims who suffer “serious impairment of body function” caused by the negligence or bad actions of intoxicated drivers are permitted to file personal injury lawsuits against the perpetrators of their pain and suffering. If the worst happens to you or someone you love, the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Mike Morse Law Firm specializing in marijuana-related accidents are ready, willing, and able to take on your case to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946). Or click right here, right now!

It’s About to Be April 20th… Which Means It’s Time to Get into the Weeds of Michigan’s Marijuana Laws

Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.