Adult-use cannabis is officially legal in Michigan as of today, but there are not yet any legal retail outlets to buy recreational marijuana in the state. Voters legalized the use of cannabis by adults in a statewide initiative that passed with nearly 56 percent of the vote in the midterm elections held last month.
Matthew Schweich, the deputy director of cannabis reform advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a press release that the legalization of cannabis in Michigan is a significant milestone.
“Michigan is the first state in the Midwest where adults will no longer be punished for possessing or growing small amounts of marijuana,” Schweich said. “This is a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society, and it’s finally going to be treated that way. In addition to ending the needless arrest and prosecution of thousands of adult consumers, this will allow law enforcement officials to spend more of their time and attention on serious crimes.”
Schweich also applauded the state for being a leader in cannabis reform.
“When it comes to marijuana policy in America, Michigan is ahead of the curve,” said Schweich. “It will serve as a strong example for the many other states that are currently considering similar reforms. State officials are in the process of creating the region’s first regulated marijuana market for adults, which will be the nail in the coffin for marijuana prohibition.”
But that regulated cannabis market won’t be ready anytime soon. Rick Thompson, a board member of legalization activist group MI Legalize, said the status quo will remain for now.
“People will get their cannabis on December 6th from the same place they got it on December 5th—the illicit market,” said Thompson. “Until the legal and regulated adult use market gets up and running there will be very little change in both the number of people using and the way cannabis is acquired in Michigan.”
Matthew Abel, the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that regulators with the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) haven’t yet started accepting applications to license recreational cannabis businesses.
“They basically stuck their heads in the sand and said they weren’t going to do anything,” said Abel.
Abel believes that the agency should have concentrated on approving a regulated supply chain and allow existing retail infrastructure to serve adult-use customers.
“LARA’s made a big mess of this,” said Abel. “What lawmakers should have done is focus on licensing growers and transporters, and enabling medical marijuana facilities to sell retail.”
Abel added that he was willing to accept donations for the legalization party he has planned.
“If you’ve got a few joints layin’ around, I’m happy to take them off your hands,” said Abel.
He also noted that after the celebration there would be more work to do.
“This is a monumental day, but there’s still a long road ahead of us,” Abel said.
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