Pot gifting, black market to 'thrive' as Michigan legalizes cannabis
There's no lawful way to buy recreational pot in Michigan, even though the drug is now legal
Cannabis is now legal in Michigan, but with nowhere to buy recreational marijuana, experts suggest "pot gifting" and the black market will flourish until regulators put dispensary rules in place.
"My real concerns over the next year are there's going to be a massive incentive for the black market until the legal industry takes shape," said David Rudoi, an attorney in Michigan who specializes in cannabis.
Michigan became the first state in the midwest to legalize pot on Nov. 7. The majority of voters agreed that people 21 or older should legally be able to buy and use the drug.
Lawyer encourages cannabis gifting
The process of establishing regulations for the retail sale of marijuana could take about two years.
"My hope would be that people start growing in their own homes, producing it and gifting it around so that it's not just the black market producers that thrive. There will be sort of this gifting system among people," said Rudoi.
Even without a recreational industry waiting to serve the new, budding market, supporters say it was important to move ahead with pot legalization as soon as possible.
"I definitely don't think they should have waited," said Margeaux Bruner, a cannabis educator. "Because every day that it was illegal, people were being arrested and going to jail, which is really huge on this side of the border. So we've eliminated that."
Here are the rules in Michigan for adults 21 and over:
- Allowed to grow up to 12 pot plants at home for personal consumption.
- 284-gram (10-ounce) limit for marijuana at home.
- 71-gram (2.5-ounce) limit for personal possession.
Each municipality in the state has the option to ban or restrict cannabis businesses, similar to what's being done in Ontario.
Supporters vs. opponents
Supporters of legalized pot say it will raise roughly $130 million in additional tax revenue each year that will go toward road repairs, schools and local governments. They also say it will allow for greater regulation of pot usage and for the police to focus on more pressing problems.
Opponents, including many law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, chambers of commerce and religious groups, said legalizing marijuana would lead to increased use by children, drug abuse and car crashes.
Detroit police chief James Craig reminds people that even with legal marijuana, they are not allowed to sell it at this time.
He also highlighted the fact that people cannot consume pot inside a vehicle or in any public spaces.
"There are still some issues we're still trying to work through, like many other agencies across the state," said Craig. "We will be coming out with a training directive probably within the next 30 days."
With files from the Associated Press