Michigan legalises recreational cannabis amid mixed results in five state votes

Michigan voted on Tuesday to legalise cannabis for recreational use, according to exit polls, with the law change set to formally start in December 2018.

Michiganders chose to authorise the legalisation of possession, use and cultivation of marijuana products by those who are at least 21 years of age.

Individuals will now be permitted to possess and use cannabis and cannabis-infused edibles and grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption. The approved law will impose a 10-ounce limit for marijuana kept at residences and mandate that amounts over 2.5 ounces be secured in locked containers.

Permitted retail sales of marijuana and edibles will be taxed 10%, dedicated to implementation costs, clinical trials, schools, roads, and municipalities where marijuana businesses are located.

Michigan became the 13th US state to legalise cannabis for medical use in 2008, while several of the state’s major cities, including Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, have decriminalized certain types of possession and use in recent decades.

According to the latest Gallup poll, 66% of Americans now support legalising cannabis the third consecutive year that support has risen to a record high.

Shares of major Canada-based cannabis companies which trade on US exchanges rallied in anticipation of the Michigan result – Tilray by 5.8%, Canopy Growth by 6.2% and Aurora Cannabis by 0.6%.

Democrats winning control of the House of Representatives in this week’s mid-term elections is also expected to help the industry.

A cannabis industry expect told CNBC:  “While we expect the Senate to remain Republican, the prospects for moving cannabis legislation are better if the House can pass bills. Given popular support for cannabis legislation and a preference by many Senate Republicans to respect state’s rights, a GOP Senate could advance a cannabis bill.”

Five other states also voted on cannabis laws on Tuesday, and there were some disappointing outcomes:

  • North Dakota voters rejected Measure 3, which would have legalised recreational marijuana use for those over 21. Convictions related to the drug would have been expunged.
  • Missouri voters passed Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment to permit medical cannabis and allow patients to grow cannabis plants at home. However, two other amendments related to medical cannabis use failed.
  • Utah embraced Proposition 2, legalising cannabis for people with qualifying illnesses. Members of the Mormon church have spoken out against the bill, which they say fails to balance protecting children and relieving suffering.
  • Ohio rejected Issue 1, which would reduce penalties for a variety of marijuana-related crimes. With 96.2% of precinct votes in, 63.8% of Ohioans voted against the measure, which would’ve changed the state’s constitution and emphasised treatment, rather than incarceration, in drugs charges.
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