Recreational Marijuana Legalized in Michigan; Medical Usage Approved in Missouri, Utah

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

November 7, 2018

Michigan has become the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational marijuana. With almost all of the precincts reporting, 56% of voters endorsed the Michigan state ballot measure to legalize the drug.

Marijuana will be legal in the state 10 days after the election results are certified, which is expected to be by early December, but marijuana is not expected to be available for legal sale until early 2020 because legislators must still put regulations in place.

Under the measure, adults 21 and older may possess up to 2.5 ounces on their person or up to 10 ounces in their home. However, Michigan employers remain free to maintain zero-tolerance drug policies for their employees. A pending bill would require judges to expunge the records of individuals convicted of low-level marijuana offenses.

Michigan becomes the 10th state overall to legalize recreational marijuana (medical marijuana was already legal there) in addition to the District of Columbia, joining the following states:

North Dakota voters rejected a marijuana legalization ballot measure by a margin of 59% to 41%. The North Dakota recreational measure did not place a limit on the amount of marijuana that individuals could possess or grow.

Medical Marijuana Laws Expand

A pair of red states, Missouri and Utah, voted to legalize medical marijuana. Missouri actually had three medical marijuana ballot initiatives, but voters approved only one of the measures, Amendment 2, by a 66% to 34% margin.

Amendment 2 gives individuals in Missouri permission to use medical marijuana with a doctor's approval, even if the individual does not have a qualifying condition. It also imposes a tax on marijuana sales with the funds to be used primarily to pay for health care services for veterans.

Meanwhile, Utah voters also approved a medical marijuana law. While smoking the drug remains illegal under the measure, it does allow qualified patients with a doctor's approval to be issued state identification cards. Qualified medical marijuana users will be allowed to buy up to two ounces of medical marijuana from a dispensary during any two-week period.

With the passage of these ballot initiatives, 33 states have now legalized medical marijuana to varying degrees.