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Marihuana became legal in Michigan on December 6

Thursday, December 6, 2018

At this time, Michigan is still evaluating the ballot language to determine its impact on the state. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marihuana use may have a wide range of health effects on the body and brain. Additionally, marihuana is still an illegal drug at the federal level.


  • On November 6, 2018, Michigan voters approved Proposal 1, creating the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act.
  • Among other things, this Act delegates responsibility for marijuana licensing, regulation and enforcement to the Michigan Department of Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
  • LARA's Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) is responsible for the oversight of medical and recreational marihuana in Michigan.
  • The Act requires LARA to start accepting license applications 12 months after the effective date of the Act. The law doesn't take effect until 10 days after the results of the election are certified by the Board of State Canvassers, which legally must occur by November 26. Therefore, there will be a period of time between the election and before operators can start applying for a license from LARA to legally operate.
  • For licensing information, contact LARA BMMR Enforcement Section at 517-284-8597 or
  • Although the Act allows people to be in possession of certain amounts of marihuana for personal use, any form of sales requires a license from LARA. No amount of marihuana product can be sold without a license from LARA.

Food and Agriculture Impact

  • A food establishment license issued by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development does NOT allow operators to produce or sell marihuana or marihuana-infused products. Selling marihuana or marihuana infused products requires a license from LARA.
  • The Cottage Foods exemption under the Michigan Food Law does not apply to marihuana infused products. You must be licensed by LARA to sell marihuana infused products. This includes any sales of marihuana or marihuana infused product sales at farmers markets or through online marketplaces.
  • At this time, incorporating CBD oil or industrial hemp into food products is not allowed under the Act. While the Act separates industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana, that does not automatically make it acceptable to incorporate into food. Those substances are still illegal at the federal level and MDARD typically relies on the federal government to determine what is considered generally regarded as safe.

Public Health and Marihuana

  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marihuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, with 37.6 million users in the past year, and marihuana use may have a wide range of health effects on the body and brain.
  • Like any other drug, marihuana's effects on a person depends on a number of factors, including the person's previous experience with the drug or other drugs, biology (e.g., genes), gender, how the drug is taken, and how strong it is.
  • The marihuana plant has chemicals that may help symptoms for some health problems.
  • More states, including Michigan, are making it legal to use the plant as medicine for certain conditions but there isn't enough research to show that the whole plant works to treat or cure these conditions.
  • Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marihuana plant as medicine.
  • Because marihuana is often smoked, it can damage your lungs and cardiovascular system (e.g., heart and blood vessels).
    • These and other damaging effects on the brain and body could make marihuana more harmful than helpful.
  • Another problem with marihuana as a medicine is that the ingredients are not exactly the same from plant to plant. Right now, there's no way to know what kind and how much of a chemical you're getting.
  • Two medicines have been made as pills from a chemical that's like THC, one of the chemicals found in the marihuana plant that makes people feel "high."
    • These two medicines can treat nausea if you have cancer and make you hungry if you have AIDS and don't feel like eating.
    • But the chemical used to make these medicines affects the brain also, so it can do things to your body other than just working as medicine.
  • Another marihuana chemical that scientists are studying, called cannabidiol (CBD), doesn't make you high because it acts on different parts of the nervous system than THC.
    • Scientists think this chemical might help children who have a lot of seizures (when your body starts twitching and jerking uncontrollably) that can't be controlled with other medicines.
    • Some studies have begun to see whether it can help but more science is needed to determine if it is or not.

Proposal 1 Passage

  • Under Proposal 1, personal use and possession of marihuana will be legal for those 21 and over.
    • Personal use is defined as 2.5 ounces in possession, or up to 12 plants in a home for personal use.
  • According to state law, the Board of Canvassers will meet on or before the 12th day after the election and must certify the results no later than the 40th day after the election. From there, the Michigan Constitution says that ballot initiatives take effect 10 days after the election results are certified. The proposal will likely go into effect sometime in late November/early December.
  • Commercial marihuana will be established following rules developed by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Municipalities can prohibit commercial businesses in their communities. The Ballot Proposal requires LARA to begin issuing licenses within 12 months of the passage of the act.
  • This act also allows for the production of industrial hemp.
  • This act does not authorize:
    • people to operate vehicles or other machinery under the influence of marihuana
    • butane extraction in residential property
    • possession in schools
    • consumption in a place prohibited by the property owner
    • consumption in public
    • marihuana edibles that can appeal to children
  • Commercial sales of marihuana will be subject to a 10 percent tax. The revenue generated from this tax will be distributed as follows:
    • 15 percent to cities and townships
    • 15 percent to counties
    • 35 percent for the school aid fund
    • 35 percent for roads
  • There are a number of implementation issues that must be worked out by the State of Michigan going forward. Some of these issues include:
    • Michigan's indoor smoking law does not protect against second hand marihuana smoke. Current law that prevents second-hand smoke is limited to tobacco. While public use is not authorized by the act, public use is likely to occur.
    • This act would prohibit legal use of marihuana from being the reason child custody or visitation are restricted unless they are creating an unreasonable danger for the child. This could potentially impact children services workers and cases.
    • In addition, there are likely to be questions about how legalized marihuana will impact the public health of all residents. There will need to be work done by the entire State of Michigan to gather more information as the act goes into effect.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is marihuana spelled with an "h" instead of a "j"?

The Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) within LARA is frequently asked why marihuana is spelled with an "h" instead of a "j." Both spellings, marijuana and marihuana are acceptable. Many in the industry, to avoid confusion refer to the botanical plant -- cannabis. While the spelling with a "j" is more common today, you will still see Michigan law using the "h" spelling.

The spelling of marihuana has a long history in the United States. Michigan's history primarily starts from the spelling that was chosen for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Michigan adopted its statutory definition of marihuana in the Public Health Code, utilizing the then current federal spelling.

As governing state laws spell marihuana with an "h," communication from BMMR in relation to the Medical Marihuana Act or facility licensing and the applicable administrative rules will use an "h" in the spelling of Marihuana. An act of the Michigan Legislature would be required in order to change the spelling of marihuana in the Michigan statutes, such as the Public Health Code or the newer marihuana laws.

It's legal in many states, so doesn't that mean marihuana is safe?

The fact that it's legal does not mean that it is safe. Using marihuana at an early age can lead to negative health consequences.

Heavy marihuana use (daily or near-daily) can do damage to memory, learning, and attention, which can last a week or more after the last time someone used.

Using marihuana during pregnancy or while breastfeeding may harm the baby, just like alcohol or tobacco.

Marihuana use has been linked to anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, but scientists don't yet know whether it directly causes these diseases.

Smoking any product, including marihuana, can damage your lungs and cardiovascular system.

Is it possible for someone to become addicted to marihuana?

Yes, about 1 in 10 marihuana users will become addicted. For people who begin using younger than 18, that number rises to 1 in 6.1-3 For more information visit CDC's section on addiction or the National Institute on Drug Abuse's pages on addiction science.

Is it possible to "overdose" or have a "bad reaction" to marihuana?

A fatal overdose is unlikely, but that doesn't mean marihuana is harmless. The signs of using too much marihuana are similar to the typical effects of using marihuana but more severe. These signs may include extreme confusion, anxiety, paranoia, panic, fast heart rate, delusions or hallucinations, increased blood pressure, and severe nausea or vomiting. In some cases, these reactions can lead to unintentional injury such as a motor vehicle crash, fall, or poisoning.

Does marihuana use lead to other drug use?

The majority of people who use marihuana do not go on to use other, "harder" substances.5 More research is needed to understand if marihuana is a "gateway drug" – a drug that is thought to lead to the use of more dangerous drugs (such as cocaine or heroin). For more on why visit risk of using other drugs.

What are the effects of mixing marihuana with alcohol, tobacco or prescription drugs?

Using alcohol and marihuana at the same time is likely to result in greater impairment than when using either one alone. Using marihuana and tobacco at the same time may also lead to increased exposure to harmful chemicals, causing greater risks to the lungs, and the cardiovascular system. Also, be aware that marihuana may change how prescription drugs work. Always talk with your doctor about any medications you are taking or thinking about taking and possible side effects when mixed with other things like marihuana.

How harmful is K2/Spice (synthetic marihuana or synthetic cannabinoids)?

Synthetic cannabinoids (e.g., synthetic marihuana, K2, Spice, Spike) -- or plants sprayed with unknown chemicals -- are dangerous and unpredictable. Synthetic cannabinoids are not marihuana, but like THC, they bind to the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other organs. Synthetic cannabinoids are also illegal in Michigan.

Research shows that synthetic cannabinoids affect the brain much more powerfully than marihuana creating unpredictable and, in some cases, life-threatening effects including nausea, anxiety, paranoia, brain swelling, seizures, hallucinations, aggression, heart palpitations, and chest pains. For additional questions around synthetic cannabinoids, visit CDC's National Center for Environmental Health page on synthetic marihuana or the National Institute on Drug Abuse page on synthetic marihuana.

Is it safe for a breastfeeding mom to use marihuana?

We do not yet know. Chemicals from marihuana can be passed to your baby through breast milk. THC is stored in fat and is slowly released over time, meaning that your baby could still be exposed even after you stop using marihuana. However, data on the effects of marihuana exposure to the infant or baby through breastfeeding are limited and conflicting. To limit potential risk to the infant, breastfeeding mothers should reduce or avoid marihuana use.

Can secondhand marihuana smoke affect nonsmokers, including children?

Secondhand marihuana smoke contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical responsible for most of marihuana's psychological effects, and many of the same toxic chemicals in smoked tobacco.6-8

Smoked marihuana has many of the same cancer-causing substances as smoked tobacco, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions around secondhand marihuana smoke exposure and its impact on chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and lung diseases.

How is eating and drinking foods that contain marihuana (edibles) different from smoking marihuana?

Because marihuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), there are health risks associated with using marihuana regardless of the how it is used. Some of these negative effects include having difficulty thinking and problem-solving, having problems with memory, learning and maintaining attention and demonstrating impaired coordination. Additionally, frequent use can lead to becoming addicted to marihuana. However, some risks may differ by the way it is used.

Smoke from marihuana contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Smoking marihuana can lead to a greater risk of bronchitis, cough, and phlegm production. Whereas, edibles, which take longer to digest, take longer to produce an effect. Therefore, people may consume more to feel the effects faster. This may lead to people consuming very high doses and result in negative effects like anxiety, paranoia and, in rare cases, an extreme psychotic reaction (e.g. delusions, hallucinations, talking incoherently, and agitation).

Specific Marihuana and Health Detail (direct from the CDC)


About 1 in 10 marihuana users will become addicted. For people who begin using before the age of 18, that number rises to 1 in 6.

Some of the signs that someone might be addicted include:

  • Unsuccessful efforts to quit using marihuana.
  • Giving up important activities with friends and family in favor of using marihuana.
  • Using marihuana even when it is known that it causes problems fulfilling everyday jobs at home, school or work.

People who are addicted to marihuana may also be at a higher risk of other negative consequences of using the drug, such as problems with attention, memory, and learning. Some people who are addicted need to smoke more and more marihuana to get the same high. It is also important to be aware that the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marihuana (i.e., marihuana potency or strength) has increased over the past few decades. The higher the THC content, the stronger the effects on the brain. In addition, some methods of using marihuana (e.g., dabbing, edibles) may deliver very high levels of THC to the user.5 Researchers do not yet know the full extent of the consequences when the body and brain (especially the developing brain) are exposed to high concentrations of THC or how recent increases in potency affect the risk of someone becoming addicted.


Marihuana use directly affects the brain -- specifically the parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, decision making, coordination, emotions, and reaction time.

Heavy users of marihuana can have short-term problems with attention, memory, and learning, which can affect relationships and mood.

Marihuana also affects brain development. When marihuana users begin using as teenagers, the drug may reduce attention, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions.

Marihuana's effects on these abilities may last a long time or even be permanent. This means that someone who uses marihuana may not do as well in school and may have trouble remembering things.

The impact depends on many factors and is different for each person. It also depends on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marihuana (i.e., marihuana potency or strength), how often it is used, the age of first use, and whether other substances (e.g., tobacco and alcohol) are used at the same time.

Developing brains, like those in babies, children, and teenagers are especially susceptible to the hurtful effects of marihuana. Although scientists are still learning about these effects of marihuana on the developing brain, studies show that marihuana use by mothers during pregnancy may be linked to problems with attention, memory, problem-solving skills, and behavior problems in their children.


Cannabinoids are the active chemicals in marihuana that cause drug-like effects throughout the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system. The main active cannabinoid in marihuana is delta-9-THC. Another active cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), which may relieve pain and lower inflammation without causing the "high" of delta-9-THC. Although marihuana and cannabinoids have been studied with respect to managing side effects of cancer and cancer therapies, there are no ongoing clinical trials of marihuana or cannabinoids in treating cancer in people. Studies so far have not shown that cannabinoids help control or cure the disease. And like many other drugs, marihuana can cause side effects and complications.

Relying on marihuana alone as treatment or for managing side effects while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.

Studies of man-made forms of the chemicals found in the marihuana plant can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy. Studies have found that marihuana can be helpful in treating neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves).

At this time, there is not enough evidence to recommend that patients inhale or ingest marihuana as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms or side effects of cancer therapy.

Smoked marihuana delivers THC and other cannabinoids to the body, but it also delivers harmful substances to users and those close by, including many of the same substances found in tobacco smoke, which are harmful to the lungs and cardiovascular system.

Researchers have found limited evidence of an association between current, frequent, or chronic marihuana smoking and testicular cancer (non-seminoma-type).

Because marihuana plants come in different strains with different levels of active chemicals, it can make each user's experience very hard to predict. More research is needed to understand the full impact of marihuana use on cancer.


Even though pain management is one of the most common reasons people use medical marihuana in the U.S., there is limited evidence that marihuana works to treat most types of chronic pain.

A few studies have found that marihuana can be helpful in treating neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves). However, more research is needed to know if marihuana is any better or any worse than other options for managing chronic pain.


Using marihuana makes the heart beat faster. It could also lead to increased risk of stroke and heart disease. However, most of the scientific studies linking marihuana to heart attacks and strokes are based on reports from people who smoked it. Smoked marihuana delivers THC and other cannabinoids to the body, but it also delivers harmful substances to users and those close by, including many of the same substances found in tobacco smoke, which are harmful to the lungs and cardiovascular system. So it's hard to separate the effects of the compounds in marihuana on the cardiovascular system from the hazards posed by the irritants and other chemicals contained in the smoke. More research is needed to understand the full impact of marihuana use on the circulatory system to determine if marihuana use leads to higher risk of death from these causes.


How marihuana affects lung health is determined by how it's consumed. In many cases, marihuana is smoked in the form hand-rolled cigarettes (joints), in pipes or water pipes (bongs), in bowls, or in blunts -- emptied cigars that have been partly or completely refilled with marihuana. Smoked marihuana, in any form, can harm lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels. Smoke from marihuana contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Smoking marihuana can also lead to a greater risk of bronchitis, cough, and phlegm production. These symptoms generally improve when marihuana smokers quit.

The known health risks of secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke -- to the heart or lungs, for instance -- raise questions about whether secondhand exposure to marihuana smoke poses similar health risks. While there is very little data on the health consequences of breathing secondhand marihuana smoke, there is concern that it could cause harmful health effects, including among children.

Recent studies have found strong associations between those who said there was someone in the home who used marihuana or a caretaker who used marihuana and the child having detectable levels of THC -- the psychoactive ingredient in marihuana. Children exposed to the psychoactive compounds in marihuana are potentially at risk for negative health effects, including developmental problems for babies whose mothers used marihuana while pregnant. 8Other research shows that marihuana use during adolescence can impact the developing teenage brain and cause problems with attention, motivation, and memory.


Marihuana use, especially frequent (daily or near daily) use and use in high doses, can cause disorientation, and sometimes cause unpleasant thoughts or feelings of anxiety and paranoia.

Marihuana users are significantly more likely than nonusers to develop temporary psychosis (not knowing what is real, hallucinations and paranoia) and long-lasting mental disorders, including schizophrenia (a type of mental illness where people might see or hear things that aren't really there). Marihuana use has also been linked to depression and anxiety, and suicide among teens. However, it is not known whether this is a causal relationship or simply an association.


Edibles, or food and drink products infused with marihuana and eaten, have some different risks than smoking marihuana, including a greater risk of poisoning. Unlike smoked marihuana, edibles can:

  • Take from 30 minutes to 2 hours to take effect. Some people eat too much, which can lead to poisoning and/or serious injury.
  • Cause effects that last longer than expected depending on the amount, the last food eaten, and medications or alcohol used at the same time.
  • Be very difficult to measure. The amount of THC, the active ingredient in marihuana, is very difficult to measure and is often unknown in edible products. Many users can be caught off-guard by the strength and long-lasting effects of edibles.

It is also important to remember that marihuana affects children differently than adults. Since marihuana has become legal in some states, children have accidentally eaten marihuana products that looked like candy and treats, which made them sick enough to need emergency medical care. 3 If you use marihuana products, keep them in childproof containers and out of the reach of children. For additional questions, you can contact your health care provider, your health department, the Poison Helpline at 1-800-222-1222, or 911 if it's an emergency.


The concept of marihuana as a "gateway drug" -- where using marihuana leads a person to use other drugs -- generates a lot of disagreement. Researchers haven't found a definite answer yet. However, most people who use marihuana do not go on to use other, "harder" drugs.

It is important to remember that people of any age, sex, or economic status can become addicted to marihuana or other drugs. Things that can affect the likelihood of substance use include:

  • Family history.
  • Having another mental health illness (such as anxiety or depression).
  • Peer pressure.
  • Loneliness or social isolation.
  • Lack of family involvement.
  • Drug availability.
  • Socioeconomic status.