By: CARTER DEJONG
On Election Day, Michigan voters passed Proposal 1 to legalize recreational marijuana use with 56% of voters voted yes on the proposal. 4.3 million Michigan residents turned out to vote this year.
Under the new law, Michigan residents 21 years and older will be allowed to keep up to ten ounces, and up to 12 plants in their homes. Amounts over 2.5 ounces will need to be kept in locked containers. The law will also allow city or town governments to ban or restrict marijuana dispensaries, producers or distributors. Public consumption and driving under the influence will still be illegal.
Sales of marijuana will be taxed with the normal sales tax of 6% along with an additional 10% excise tax. That extra tax money could go to fund a variety of other government services including roads and schools.
“I think it will boost the economy tremendously. Marijuana is a product that people already buy through non-regulated and untaxed channels. This money will now be taxed and regulated, and we should see a huge improvement in our cities’ infrastructures, crime rates and education system,” said Jami Bell, a Michigan resident and a public relations major at IU South Bend.
Before the midterm elections, the nearest states with legal recreational marijuana were Colorado and Massachusetts. The decision to legalize in Michigan is expected to put pressure on other midwestern states to follow as well.
“I think that once the surrounding states see how legalizing marijuana has benefited Michigan, they’ll start making moves towards legalization,” Bell said.
While many Indiana residents are hopeful and excited for Michigan, law enforcement would like to make it extremely clear that marijuana is still illegal in Indiana.
St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter stated that if you are caught crossing the border into Indiana with marijuana, you will get arrested.
“If they get it legally in Michigan and they bring it to Indiana, they will be charged, they will be arrested, they will be convicted for that act,” Cotter said.
Last year St. Joe County had 25 fatal crashes from drugged driving. Indiana State Police do expect to see an increase in fatal crashes as a result of driving under the influence of marijuana.
The election results should be certified by early December. Ten days after that, marijuana will be officially legal in the state of Michigan. However, it could be until 2020 before marijuana is commercially available. This is because of the time it takes to develop the regulation businesses will have to follow. Once the law is certified, adults will have less to worry about being arrested for possession or use.
Marijuana possession and use is still illegal under Federal laws.