This post is the first in a series of posts designed toward providing some basic background information about the legal status of marijuana under Michigan law. This area of the law is complicated, confusing, and changing on an almost daily basis. Attorneys, judges, police officers, and medical marijuana patients and caregivers struggle with understanding some of these concepts, so our hope is to help provide some basic guidance so that you can understand your rights.
To begin, marijuana is still illegal under both federal law and Michigan law. It is illegal to possess, cultivate, use, or transfer marijuana under both federal law and Michigan law. However, in 2008, Michigan voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of a ballot initiative to allow the medical use of marijuana in Michigan. This ballot initiative became the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (commonly known as the “MMMA”).
It is important to note that the MMMA did not legalize marijuana in Michigan. As I said before, marijuana is still illegal under both federal law and Michigan law. Instead, the MMMA can best be described as providing legal protections for patients suffering from serious medical conditions, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis, whose doctors recommended medical marijuana to treat their conditions. The MMMA’s protections allow patients to grow, use, and possess marijuana—so long as the patient is compliant with the MMMA. The MMMA also extended that protection to allow patients to designate caregivers to assist them in cultivating marijuana plants.
Since the adoption of the MMMA, Michiganders have used medical marihuana to treat serious medical conditions. As of September 30, 2016, there were 218,556 licensed medical marijuana patients in Michigan. Medical marijuana patients in Michigan have been tireless advocates to ensure that they have access to their medicine that grants them relief from their serious and debilitating medical conditions. Studies have shown that medical marijuana is an effective tool in combating the opioid crisis, and the topic has received bipartisan support.
We’ve briefly touched on the background and development of Michigan’s marijuana laws. My next post will focus on the legal protections offered by the MMMA for patients and caregivers. If you are interested in learning more about Michigan’s medical marijuana laws, including obtaining licensing for a medical marijuana business, please contact the experienced medical marijuana attorneys at Grewal Law PLLC.
An associate attorney with Grewal Law PLLC in Okemos, Michigan, John Fraser focuses on general litigation, criminal defense, cannabis law, and appellate law. John is also an adjunct professor of law at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School where he teaches a course on Medical Marijuana and the Law.