GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With the new Michigan law legalizing recreational marijuana comes new challenges for state regulators and lawmakers.
Michigan voters approved the move in November by a vote of 56 percent to 44 percent. While the decision is binding, implementing the rules will fall to state agencies and possibly the Legislature.
CAN IT BE REVERSED?
It’s highly unlikely the House and Senate could significantly change the initiative passed by voters.
Any big change to limit the scope or substance of the ballot issue would have to gain three-quarters of the vote in both chambers.
Doing so would be nearly impossible right now, since the final rules have not been written.
ROLLING OUT REGULATIONS
While recreational marijuana officially became legal Thursday, Rep. and Senator-elect Winnie Brinks says laws addressing its use and distribution will take longer.
"The implementation will probably take a number of months or a year," she said.
"The Department (of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs), LARA, will probably work on establishing the rules around that,” she added. “So, if there are issues that arise, I anticipate the Legislature would work with them to iron out any details."
The rules on where you can buy legal pot have still got to be sorted out. Ultimately, it will be up to municipalities to decide whether they will allow sales within their borders. There are communities in West Michigan that have already said they're not going to allow pot sales.
ENFORCING ‘GOING TO BE TOUGH’
While the rules will likely take months to iron out, lawmakers are worried now about the confusion among those who choose to use.
As a former Michigan State Police post commander turned senator, Mike Nofs has a unique view.
"It's going to be tough because again, it's brand new. Being a former police officer, I've got some concerns," Nofs said.
In just a few days, the Battle Creek Republican will leave the Legislature after 16 years. The term-limited lawmaker says the new-found freedom to use marijuana may create problems no one has even considered yet, ultimately leading to court decisions that will lead law enforcement.
"I think a lot of people aren't understanding the law. You know, if you're renting your place, you can't smoke in your own house unless your landlord says you can smoke marijuana, or have it on the premises because you don't own the premises, even though it's legal under Michigan law, not federal law, to be able to possess it,” explained Nofs. “And so there are a lot of things that people are going to get really upset about that aren't really defined, and we're going to have to work through all those problems and get it worked out.”