As cannabis reform has spread across the United States, it has given birth to a marketplace increasingly driven by business interests. This is the third installment in our series looking at how the changing landscape of cannabis policy affects a key group of often-overlooked stakeholders: medical marijuana patients who choose to cultivate their own supply of medicine. Go here for the home grown laws in Washington and Oregon, and here for the home grown laws in California and Alaska. Though there are undeniably many benefits to the expansion and professionalization of the commercial cannabis industry, it is also important to account for these small-scale medical marijuana producers that started it all.
This week we look to two Midwestern states that have, to varying degrees, embraced medical cannabis: Michigan and Illinois. These states are relatively new entrants to the medical marijuana scene, legalizing in 2008 and 2013, respectively. Michigan and Illinois are also useful case studies of wildly different approaches to legalizing, regulating, and managing medical marijuana programs at the state level.
Michigan. As of 2013, medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal in the state of Michigan. Accordingly, patients must either grow their own medicine or acquire it from a registered caregiver, who is limited to five patients apiece. Patients who choose to cultivate their own supply are, however, allowed to possess a fairly generous twelve cannabis plants, provided those plants are in a private and locked facility. From these twelve plants, a patient may possess only two and one-half ounces of usable marijuana at a time. Patients should be careful to follow all Michigan laws when transporting usable marijuana, which require all transport be done securely and according to specific rules.
Illinois. As would-be home growers of medical marijuana in Illinois will know all to well, the state’s medical marijuana program does not currently permit home cultivation of any amount of marijuana. Nor does the law allow for cannabis caregivers to cooperatively cultivate any amount of marijuana for patients. This is partly because the state initiative that first authorized medical marijuana was styled as a “pilot program,” intended for the state to test the waters of marijuana reform. Unlike Michigan, patients are able to obtain marijuana from state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries. Patients are allowed to possess up to two and one-half ounces of usable marijuana in a fourteen day period. Nonetheless, patients committed to cultivating their own cannabis supply are out of luck in the Land of Lincoln.
As always, patients and caregivers in Michigan and Illinois should be careful to stay up to date on current state cannabis laws and be ready for things to change over time.
Next week we will set our sights to the east as we analyze home grown medical marijuana laws in the states of New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.