How new marijuana laws will be enforced on MI waters

Marijuana in MI

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The upcoming Memorial Day weekend will mark the first one in which Michigan has legal recreational marijuana. 

24 Hour News 8 spoke with Ottawa County sheriff’s officials to learn if people can smoke while on their boat. It was found, like everything else involving the new recreational marijuana laws, there is still a lot of gray area. 

“It’s something we are prepared for, and we are making sure we are prepared for it. But, I mean, it’s new, it’s new to us, new to all law enforcement, new to the people,” said Ottawa County Sgt. Eric Westveer. ”So, there are going to be some ‘what do we do here’ type of things and that is where the court process will come in and the lawmaking, and making adjustments to the law and where it sits now.” 

Westveer said they talked with their attorney about the new laws and how they will enforce them. People can smoke marijuana in private quarters on a boat. If there is an indoor area or a lower deck, officials will treat it like the boater’s home.

Marijuana can physically be on the boat. If the amount of marijuana is within legal possession, boaters shouldn’t get in trouble if deputies search their boat on the water. 

The information above, just applies to inland lakes and how Ottawa County will enforce the laws. The Great Lakes, and all the bodies of water connected to them are considered federal waters. The U.S. Coast Guard enforces these waters and it abides by federal laws. 

“Keep in mind too, under federal law marijuana is still illegal and the Coast Guard operates under federal law. However, they handle it will be different from how we handle it too, because it’s still illegal for them under federal law,” said Westveer. 

Westveer said you can’t drive your boat high. In that sense, it compares to several the rules on the road and the use of alcohol. It also isn’t allowed to smoke out in the open, in a public space. All lakes and bodies of water in Michigan are considered public waters.

A good rule of thumb is if it’s visible to authorities and other boaters on the water, you’re in public. Officials said there won’t be a grace period because it’s on the public to know the law.

If there’s any question of what you’re doing is legal, it’s best to ask an attorney first. 

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