Cannabis in Michigan

Cannabis in Michigan is legal for both medical and recreational use. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2008 to make Michigan the 13th state to legalize medical use. Ten years later, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational use when 56% of voters approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. The first recreational cannabis dispensaries are expected to open in early 2020.


Before cannabis was legalized in the state, possession of any amounts was a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year's incarceration and a $2,000 fine, while actual use was punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine. If possession was in a public park, the sentence was at most two years and a $2,000 fine. Distributing cannabis without remuneration was a misdemeanor punishable by at most one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.[1] The sale and cultivation of cannabis was a felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and $10,000,000 in fines depending on the number of plants grown and the amount of usable cannabis sold.[1]

Municipal reforms[edit]

Prior to statewide legalization, many cities in Michigan decriminalized cannabis or made enforcement of cannabis laws the lowest priority. Among the cities to enact such reforms were: Ann Arbor (1972), Kalamazoo (2012), Detroit (2012), Flint (2012), Grand Rapids (2012), Ypsilanti (2012), Ferndale (2013), Jackson (2013), Lansing (2013), Hazel Park (2014), Oak Park (2014), Berkley (2014), Huntington Woods (2014), Mount Pleasant (2014), Pleasant Ridge (2014), Port Huron (2014), Saginaw (2014), East Lansing (2015), Keego Harbor (2015), and Portage (2015).[2]

Ann Arbor[edit]

Since the 1970s the college town of Ann Arbor has enacted some of the most lenient laws on cannabis possession in the United States. These include a 1972 city council ordinance, a 1974 voter referendum making possession of small amounts a civil infraction subject to a small fine, and a 2004 referendum on the medical use of cannabis. Since state law took precedence over municipal law, the far-stricter state cannabis laws were still enforced on University of Michigan property.

Medical legalization (2008)[edit]

In November 2008, the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative (appearing on the ballot as Proposal 1) was approved by Michigan voters.[3] The measure allowed patients with a physician's recommendation to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for treatment of certain qualifying medical conditions.[4] Although it did not contain any allowance for dispensaries to operate,[5] it did allow patients or their caregivers to cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants.[4] The measure faced opposition from law enforcement officials and drug czar John P. Walters,[6] but it was ultimately approved by a 63–37 margin, making Michigan the 13th state to legalize medical use and the first Midwestern state to do so.[7]

Recreational legalization (2018)[edit]

In November 2017, legalization proponents submitted 365,000 signatures to put a cannabis legalization measure on the 2018 ballot.[8] In April 2018, it was certified that supporters had turned in the requisite number of valid signatures.[9] In June 2018, state lawmakers declined the option to pass the measure themselves, sending it to the November ballot.[10] On November 6, 2018, Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 by a 56–44 margin, making Michigan the 10th state (and first in the Midwest) to legalize cannabis for recreational use.[11]

The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act allows persons age 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis in public, up to 10 ounces at home, and cultivate up to 12 plants at home.[12] It also sets up a system for the state-licensed cultivation and distribution of cannabis, with sales subject to a 10% excise tax (in addition to the state's 6% sales tax).[11] The law went into effect on December 6, 2018,[13] with the first dispensaries expected to open in early 2020.[12]

Public opinion[edit]

Public opinion on the legalization of recreational cannabis in Michigan
Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
% support % opposition % Undecided/Don't Know
Marketing Resource Group[14] 2016 600 LV ± 4.0% 53% 42% 5%
Marketing Resource Group[15] September 9–14, 2015 600 LV ± 4.0% 46% 46% 8%
Marketing Resource Group[16] April 13–17, 2015 600 LV ± 4.0% 51% 46% 3%
EPIC-MRA[17] December 10–14, 2014 600 LV ± 4.0% 50% 46% 4%
Marketing Resource Group[18] October 6–10, 2013 600 LV ± 4.0% 41% 55% 4%

Note: For polls after 2016, see Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act.


  1. ^ a b "Michigan Laws & Penalties". NORML. Archived from the original on September 10, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  2. ^ "Michigan Local Decriminalization". NORML. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  3. ^ "Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative, Proposal 1 (2008)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Satyanarayana, Megha (October 25, 2008). "Is Marijuana Good Medicine?". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  5. ^ "Michigan voters approve medical marijuana measure". Associated Press. November 5, 2008. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  6. ^ Smith, Phillip (October 17, 2008). "Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative Faces Organized Opposition". Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  7. ^ State-by-state medical marijuana laws, Marijuana Policy Project, 2015, retrieved April 1, 2019
  8. ^ Kathleen Gray (November 29, 2017), "Group ready to fight plan for legalized pot in Michigan", Detroit Free Press
  9. ^ Gray, Kathleen (April 26, 2018). "Michigan approves marijuana legalization vote for November". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  10. ^ Gray, Kathleen (June 5, 2018). "Voters will decide marijuana legalization after Legislature fails to act". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Angell, Tom (November 6, 2018). "Michigan Voters Approve Marijuana Legalization". Forbes. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Gray, Kathleen (November 7, 2018). "Legal marijuana in Michigan: What you need to know". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  13. ^ Gray, Kathleen (December 6, 2018). "Recreational marijuana is officially legal in Michigan today". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  14. ^ Marketing Resource Group, May 2017
  15. ^ Marketing Resource Group, September 2015
  16. ^ Marketing Resource Group, April 2015
  17. ^ EPIC-MRA, January 2015
  18. ^ Marketing Resource Group, October 2013