Michigan is the first state in the Midwest to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Some business leaders say legal pot could become a big draw for tourists, delivering the economic benefits experts in the gaming industry predicted casino gambling would produce, revenue that never really materialized.
Voters approved a ballot referendum allowing those age 21 and older to carry as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana, grow 12 plants in their home and use it on private property, though landlords would have some say over that use for those who are renting.
Stuart Carter, who owns the Detroit medical marijuana dispensary Utopia Gardens, says legalizing recreational pot should free law enforcement to focus on other things.
“The police made it their business to bust young people with pot, particularly young black men, historically. And now everybody can carry two and a half ounces,” Carter says.
The state is probably still more than a year away from permitting the sale of recreational marijuana, although a person is allowed to give it to another free charge.
And there are already legal ramifications arising regarding recreational pot.
Term-limited Republican state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof has introduced a bill that would ban people from growing plants in their home altogether, arguing there are too few regulations in place to prevent that marijuana from being sold on the black market.
Spokespeople for Meekhof admit the proposal’s prospects are dim, since it would require a ¾ majority in both the state Senate and House to overturn provisions set through the ballot initiative.
Michigan Democratic Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, on the other hand, says she may commute the sentences of those convicted of possessing pot.
Once the ballot proposal passed, some Michigan prosecutors began dropping cases involving using or possessing marijuana