Thisis provingto be a big year for cannabis. As a result, we are ranking the fifty states from worst to best on how they treat cannabis and those who consume it. Each of our State of Cannabis posts will analyze one state and our final post will crown the best state for cannabis. As is always the case, but particularly so with this series, we welcome your comments. We have finally crossed the half-way point. The states featured going forward generally have mixed laws when it comes to cannabis. Some good, some bad, and some ugly. Today we turn to number 18: Michigan.
Our previous rankings are as follows: 19. New Hampshire; 20. Ohio; 21.New Jersey; 22.Illinois;23.Minnesota; 24.New York; 25.Wisconsin; 26.Arizona; 27.West Virginia; 28.Indiana; 29.North Carolina; 30.Utah; 31.South Carolina; 32.Tennessee; 33.North Dakota; 34.Georgia; 35.Louisiana; 36.Mississippi; 37.Nebraska; 38.Missouri;39.Florida; 40.Arkansas; 41.Montana;42.Iowa; 43.Virginia; 44.Wyoming; 45.Texas; 46.Kansas; 47.Alabama; 48.Idaho; 49.Oklahoma; 50.South Dakota.
Criminal Penalties.The possession of any amount of marijuana can earn up to 1 year in prison and a maximum fine of $2,000. The use of marijuana can earn up to 90 days in prison and a maximum fine of $100. A person who faces a possession or use charge may earn a conditional discharge, provided that he or she has no prior offenses.
The exchange of marijuana without remuneration (i.e., a gift) earns up to 1 year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000. The sale of under 5 kilograms earns up to 4 years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000. The sale of between 5-45 kilograms earns up to 7 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000. The sale of over 45 kilograms earns up to 15 years in prison and amaximum fine of $10,000,000.
Medical Marijuana. In 2008, voters passed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), legalizing medical marijuana. The act was ambiguous and complicated. In a case reviewing the act, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Peter J. OConnell acknowledged this and made the followingwarning:
Reading this act is similar to participating in the Triwizard Tournament described in J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: the maze that is this statute is so complex that the final result will only be known once the Supreme Court has had an opportunity to review and remove the haze from this act.
Several attempted legislative fixes and court challenges failed to clarify the law (Michigan Radio, the local NPR affiliate, provides a helpful timeline). In 2013 the Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion clarifying the MMMA. In State of Michiganv. McQueen, thecourt ruled that the MMMA did not permit marijuana dispensaries and prohibited unrestricted retail sales of marijuana. As a result, Michigan closed medical marijuana dispensaries. A recent opinion from a Michigan Court of Appeals has affirmed that patients are limited in how they can obtain medical cannabis. Patients can grow their own marijuana or obtain it from a caregiver who can provide marijuana for no more than five patients.Patients who choose to grow their own cannabis must keep no more than 12 marijuana plants in a locked facility, not viewable by the public. If grown outdoors, the plants must remain in a fenced structure that restricts the publics access to and view of the plants.
Patients must obtain a registration card after receiving a recommendation from a physician for a qualifying condition. The MMMA named several qualifying conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Alzheimers disease. Patients may also use medical marijuana to treat chronic and debilitating medical conditions not named in the statute if the condition or treatment for the condition causes two of the following side effects: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures ...