SAGINAW (WJRT) - (11/7/2018) - Even though voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana in Michigan on Tuesday, that doesn't mean people can start smoking.
The Michigan Legislature still has to establish parameters for using marijuana while still abiding by the verbiage included on the ballot for Proposal 1.
That process could take several weeks or months. Then, police and prosecutors have to be educated on the new law and how it will affect their work.
"We're going to do everything we can to make sure that we understand the parameters of this proposal and what it means now that it will become law and we will stay within the framework of that," Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel said.
The ballot language restricts recreational marijuana use to people age 21 and older. They can consume edibles or marijuana and grow up to 12 plants for personal consumption.
Anyone would be limited to a 10-ounce limit of marijuana kept in their residence, with a requirement that more than 2.5 ounces be locked in a secured container.
The state also will be required to establish a licensing system for marijuana-based businesses. Marijuana could be sold commercially, subject to a 10 percent tax partially going toward schools and road maintenance.
Several current laws setting marijuana use and possession as felonies or misdemeanors would be reduced to civil infractions.
While not a supporter of legal marijuana, Federspiel is not bitter about the change coming to the state.
"I am not disappointed, I'm not happy, I'm just ready to get to work and keep people safe," Federspiel said.
He said some law enforcement officials were against this proposal because he said this does come with a heavy price for them, based on comments from their counterparts in other states with legal marijuana.
"Talking to law enforcement officers in Colorado, we learned of some of the issues that they were experiencing. I know that some sheriffs had some personal experiences with legalization of marijuana in other states that had visited," Federspiel said.
One prosecutor mentioned that an increase of reported crimes could go up, which could lead to more court cases. Nathan Collison, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Saginaw County, expects to see incidents of marijuana theft increase.
"When the criminal knows that the substance or these plants are in a home, keeping those homeowners safe so they can exercise their rights without fear of having their premises burglarized," Collison said.
If someone is caught with marijuana, they will be subject to a penalty, a civil offense and a fine.