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5 things to know about growing your own recreational marijuana legally in Michigan

A man harvests a marijuana plant. Michigan law now allows anyone 21 and over to grow up to 12 marijuana plants. (Photo: AP)

Recreational marijuana is legal in Michigan right now, but there won’t be a legal way to buy it until 2020 or so.

In the meantime, those who want to partake have two options: find someone willing to give you pot for free or grow your own.

There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation going around, so here’s a handy list of basics on cultivating your own recreational cannabis.

1. How many plants can you legally own or grow?

Anyone 21 and over will be able to grow up to 12 plants at home.

You can’t buy seeds or cuttings from anyone until the state-approved retail businesses are up and running, but someone could give them to you.

Seeds are available online to purchase, but internet purchases fall under interstate commerce, which is regulated by federal law, and marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

Alongside the 12 plants, individuals will be allowed to have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana on their person and up to 10 ounces at home.

2. You won’t be able to grow legally if Arlan Meekhof gets his way

Republican lawmakers are trying to put through a new bill that will prevent people from growing their own marijuana.

A bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, at the end of November would prohibit homegrown marijuana.

The bill isn’t likely to pass because the Legislature will need a three-quarters vote in both the House of Representatives and Senate to make changes to proposals passed by voters. However, unlikely isn’t impossible.

Marijuana plants. (Photo: Provided)

3. How to grow marijuana at home

Once you have seeds or cuttings, what’s the next step?

“There’s so much to it,” said Charles Dupree, the owner of Great Lakes Grow Store at 119 S. Union St. in Battle Creek. “People think you can just put a seed in and just grow it. You can technically, but, in order to get a good product, it’s kind of like the garden outside. The love you put in is the love you get out.”

Most gardening or grow stores will have all the supplies you need to grow cannabis, except the cannabis itself. You’ll need a grow tent or locked room. How much space you’ll need depends on how many plants you have.You can grow one or two plants in a 5-gallon bucket in a 4-foot-by-4-foot area, Dupree said. The full 12 plants allowed by the law would need at least 10 feet by 10 feet.

The voter-initiated statute specifies that plants can be grown as long as they are not visible “from a public place without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids or outside of an enclosed area equipped with locks or other functioning security devices that restrict access to the area.”

It takes at least four months to get a harvestable cannabis plant from a seed, with two months in the flowering stage. The plants need light for 18 to 24 hours a day until you’re ready for them to start producing buds, at which point they’ll need 12 hours of light. The plants need high humidity and should be kept at roughly 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

“There’s a lot more to it than people think,” Dupree said.

Female cannabis plants are the ones that produce the marijuana, so growers will need to take that into account. Once the plant’s done flowering, it won’t produce flowers again, Dupree said.

Growers also should take note that it doesn’t matter if the plant is flowering or not, germinating or just a cutting, it can still be considered a plant, according to a Michigan Court of Appeals medical marijuana case in 2016.

A bud on a growing marijuana plant (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

4. Can your landlord stop you from growing or smoking marijuana?

Your landlord will be able to prevent you from growing and smoking marijuana. But they won’t be able to stop you from eating it.

The law says that, while a property owner can prohibit or regulate “the consumption, cultivation, distribution, processing, sale, or display of marijuana and marijuana accessories,” a lease agreement can’t prohibit a tenant from keeping up to 10 ounces at home or “consuming marijuana by means other than smoking.”

“If it says consuming, I think consuming includes smoking, smoking does not include consuming,” said attorney Sarissa Montague, of the Kalamazoo firm Levine & Levine.

What about vaping?

“I don’t know what they are going to say about vaping because the statute itself I don’t believe defines vaping,” Montague said . “It does not define consuming and it does not define smoking, so one of the issues that most likely will be litigated in the near future is going to be where vaping falls within the context of this act.”

5. Where can you smoke marijuana?

Public consumption of marijuana will remain illegal, but the living room of your house is fine (as long as you own the place or your landlord is OK with it).

Also, you cannot operate vehicles, aircrafts, snowmobiles, off-road recreational vehicles or motorboats while “under the influence” of marijuana, but what “under the influence” is exactly is still an unknown.

It also prohibits you from smoking marijuana within the passenger area of a vehicle on a public road.

“Marijuana users need to be aware that there’s not a blanket entitlement to using marijuana wherever you want however you want,” Montague said. “There are laws. The penalties are different, but there’s still regulation of it.”

Here's a handy list of basics on cultivating your own recreational cannabis.

Growing marijuana in Michigan: Here’s what to know about the law

You can grow up to 12 plants indoors

Dave Bartkowiak Jr., Digital Managing Editor

DETROIT – As of Dec. 6, 2018 it is legal to grow your own marijuana in the state of Michigan.

According to the new Michigan law, a person who is at least 21 years old is allowed no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana within his or her place of residence unless any excess marijuana is stored in a container or area equipped with locks “or other functioning security devices that restrict access to the contents of the container or area.”

That’s how the law reads.

Of course, while growing and using is legal, law enforcement officials are reminding residents that marijuana will be treated like alcohol: You can’t drive while under the influence, and using it openly in public can get you arrested.

But how much can you grow and where can you grow it?

Legal adults in Michigan are allowed to grow up to 12 marijuana plants inside their residence. That’s according to the proposal language that was approved.

According to the new law, individuals are not allowed to grow marijuana:

  • if the plants are visible from a public place without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids;
  • or outside of an enclosed area equipped with locks or other functioning security devices that restrict access to the area.

That means you’re going to want to be growing indoors, or outside in a shed or grow house. Keep in mind this is Michigan — the weather changes rapidly.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana caregivers in Michigan are still allowed up to five patients registered to him or her and can grow up to 12 plants for each of them. If the caregiver is also a patient and has five patients, he or she can grow up to 72 marijuana plants. Medical marijuana growers will emphasize the importance of having enough plants to serve a patient, or multiple patients, adequately with the correct strains at the correct times. This is where it can get complicated. Moreover, if you ever hear a grower use the term “cloning,” then you know they’ve been through the process extensively.

Michigan is first in Midwest

Michigan is the first state in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana. Here are the other states where recreational marijuana is legal and when it was made legal:

  • Alaska (2014)
  • California (2018)
  • Colorado (2012)
  • Maine (2016)
  • Massachusetts (2016)
  • Nevada (2016)
  • Oregon (2015)
  • Vermont (2018)
  • Washington (2012)
  • *District of Columbia (legal, but not for commercial sales — 2014)

Growing marijuana in Michigan compared to other states

Michigan is one of only two states, the other being Alaska, where households are allowed to grow 12 marijuana plants. Most of those states listed above allow only six plants per household.

In Alaska, households are allowed to grow 12 plants if at least two adults (21 and older) live in the household. In Michigan, any household with at least one adult 21 and older is allowed to grow 12 plants.

That makes Michigan’s household marijuana cultivation law the least strict out of all of the states.

State issues marijuana sales licenses

The state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) needs to issue the appropriate licenses for anyone who wants to start a recreational marijuana business.

Here are the license types that are offered:

  • Marijuana retailer
  • Marijuana safety compliance facility
  • Marijuana secure transporter
  • Marijuana processor
  • Marijuana microbusiness
  • Class A marijuana grower authorizing cultivation of not more than 100 marijuana plants
  • Class B marijuana grower authorizing cultivation of not more than 500 marijuana plants
  • Class C marijuana grower authorizing cultivation of not more than 2,000 marijuana plants

If you’re looking to grow some plants at your house for you, then you’re looking for the Class A license.

By the way . here’s why you may see the state spell marijuana as ‘marihuana’

LARA offers the following explanation for why you may see the department refer to marijuana as “marihuana,” substituting the “j” for an “h”:

The spelling of marijuana 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 marijuana in the Public Health Code, utilizing the then current federal spelling, marihuana.

As governing state laws spell marihuana with an “h,” BMR legal communication and references to statutes in relation to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act or the Michigan Medical Facilities Licensing Act or the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act – and the corresponding administrative rules will use an “h” in the spelling of Marihuana. In non-formal communication, “j” will generally be used.

An act of the Michigan Legislature would be required in order to change the spelling of marijuana in the Michigan statutes, such as the Public Health Code or the newer marijuana laws.

For more coverage of marijuana in Michigan, go here.

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As of Dec. 6, 2018 it is legal to grow your own marijuana in the state of Michigan.