Marijuana Cultivation and Possession with Intent
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Like many other states, Michigan’s legislature has responded to our nation’s changing attitudes regarding marijuana. Michigan first legalized medical marijuana in 2008 and has now decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana for people over the age of 21. The law will continue to evolve, but you should be aware that the use, possession, and distribution of marijuana is still subject to regulation and legal penalties.
Michigan marijuana attorney Maurice Davis has the knowledge and experience you need to navigate this changing legal landscape. If you’re facing marijuana charges or are worried about whether you could be charged with a crime, he can help you get the answers and results you need. Call Davis Law Group at (313) 818-3238 or use our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Cultivation and Possession with Intent to Sell Marijuana Decriminalized
Previously, it was against the law for private citizens to cultivate marijuana unless they qualified under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program. In other words, you could not grow marijuana for recreational use. That has now changed as a result of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA) that was passed in November of 2018. Michigan’s laws for the cultivation of marijuana are now among the most lax in the nation. Under the new law, persons 21 years or older can cultivate a total of 12 marijuana plants within their residence at one time.
However, you should understand that you can’t simply grow the plants wherever you want. The plants must be kept in an enclosed, secured area that prevents access by the public. In addition, the plants cannot be visible to the public “without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids.” As a result, you likely need to cultivate your marijuana plants indoors or in a shed or similar structure, but at a minimum, you need to make sure that the plants are not visible from outside your property. In addition, you will need to be careful that the area is closed and locked so that only you and those who have your permission can access the plants.
What Happens if You Have More Than 12 Plants?
Although cultivation is now legal, you should be aware that there are penalties if you violate the new laws.
More than 12 plants but less than 24 plants:
- The first violation is a civil infraction, carrying a fine of $500 or less and forfeiture of the marijuana.
- The second violation is a civil infraction, carrying a fine of $1,000 or less and forfeiture of the marijuana.
- Third and subsequent violations are misdemeanor offenses, punishable by a maximum fine of $2,000 and forfeiture of the marijuana.
More than 24 plants:
- Chargeable as a misdemeanor offense and subject to jail time if the violation was habitual, willful, and for a commercial purpose or it involved violence.
Although cultivation of marijuana has mostly been decriminalized, you can still potentially face criminal charges.
What About Possession with Intent to Distribute?
The MRTMA effectively repealed the prior laws that criminalized the distribution and sale of marijuana. The MRTMA has provided for the legal distribution and sale of marijuana, but it will require that you be a licensed marijuana establishment under the law. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is responsible for developing the regulatory framework for the industry, to include licensing requirements. It is anticipated that the first recreational dispensary will be able to open in 2020.
Until that time, selling or distributing marijuana is presumably punishable. If you are in possession of more than 24 plants and are selling marijuana, be aware that you could be charged with a misdemeanor. And since your possession would be considered “for a commercial purpose,” a conviction could result in jail time.
Federal Marijuana Trafficking Charges
Despite the fact that marijuana has been legalized in Michigan, it is important to remember that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Surprisingly, marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, along with LSD, ecstasy, and heroin. Federal law takes precedence over state law, which means that you could still face prosecution even if you are complying with Michigan law.
Under federal law, you could be charged with drug trafficking if you have 100 or more plants, there were weapons involved, or you intended to transport the marijuana across state lines. In a marijuana trafficking case, you could be facing the following penalties:
1,000 or more plants:
- A minimum of 10 years in prison, or 20 years if the trafficking resulted in death or serious injury
- Up to $10 million in fines for individuals and up to $50 million in fines for businesses
100 or more plants:
- A minimum of five years in prison or 20 years if the trafficking resulted in death or serious injury
- Up to $5 million fines for individuals or $25 million for businesses
These are just some of the potential penalties you could be facing, and you should be aware that you can be charged with trafficking for having as few as 50 plants.
Davis Law Group – Detroit Marijuana Attorneys
Even though Michigan has largely decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, you could still potentially face criminal charges or civil penalties. If you plan to grow your own marijuana or start a marijuana-related business, getting some legal advice could help you avoid legal trouble down the road.
If you’re facing marijuana-related charges, the sooner you speak with an attorney, the better. Whichever situation you’re in, marijuana attorney Maurice Davis has the knowledge and experience you need. Call us today at (313) 818-3238 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
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