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Michigan Just Legalized Recreational Marijuana. Here's What it Means for Indiana. 

By IndyStar on 11/8/2018

The passage of a bill in Michigan on Tuesday is creating buzz around Indiana.

Voters voted in favor of Proposal 1, which will legalize recreational use of marijuana in Michigan in early December for adults 21 and older.

Cannabis has been legal for medical use in Michigan since 2008. Medical marijuana is also legal in Illinois and Ohio. But Michigan is the first state that borders Indiana where recreational marijuana will be legal.This will make it easier for Indiana residents to purchase and possess marijuana.

"It's going to be a new vacation capital," said Bill Levin, founder of the Indianapolis-based First Church of Cannabis. "It will certainly be easier than going to Colorado." 

Indiana on marijuana: Indiana lawmakers are considering medical marijuana. One legislator said he tried it.

CBD oil legalized: CBD oil is now legal in Indiana after nearly a year of confusion

But don't book your Michigan trip just yet. While it will be legal to possess a small amount of marijuana in December, it won't be available for legal recreational sales until at least 2020.

Levin said this move just highlights the fact that Indiana is missing out on an economic opportunity.

"We’re going to have legalization inevitably going to happen, so it's a matter of if we’re going to be a leader or follower, and right now we're a follower," he said. 

Indiana lawmakers consider medical marijuana

In October, a legislative interim study committee met for the first time to discuss the possibility of medical marijuana in Indiana. Rep. Jim Lucas provided testimony that he tried marijuana in Colorado and said it was the “best night sleep I’ve ever had." Lucas plans to file a bill to legalize marijuana in the upcoming legislative session. 

Marijuana remains illegal on the federal level. On Wednesday, CBS News reported that marijuana stocks rose after U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions announced he would resign. Sessions said in January that he would revoke a policy from the Obama administration called the Cole Memorandum, which said that the federal government would not enforce marijuana prohibition on states that had legalized the drug. 

Here’s how Michigan’s legalization of marijuana could affect Indiana.

Where does Indiana stand on marijuana?

Cannabis is illegal in Indiana. Possession of less than 30 grams is a misdemeanor offense, and more than 30 grams is a felony.

In March, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a measure legalizing low-THC cannabidiol oil, known as CBD oil, in Indiana. 

When can I buy marijuana in Michigan?

Adults 21 or older will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana starting Dec. 6, or earlier, if election results are certified before then. Recreational sales won’t start until early 2020, because regulations need to be put in place and licenses issued. Medical marijuana dispensaries will have the first chance to obtain recreational licenses.

Can I bring marijuana from Michigan into Indiana?

Even if you purchase it legally in Michigan or any other state that has legalized marijuana, you cannot bring it here. Buying it legally does not make it legal to possess in Indiana. 

Can I use marijuana in Michigan and drive back to Indiana?

It will still be illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis in Michigan or in Indiana.

According to an article from High Times, a marijuana news publication, you need to factor in both the dosage and concentration of the marijuana, and your metabolism and tolerance to have an accurate length of how long your high will last. But generally, a high lasts one to two hours after smoking cannabis, and three to four hours after ingesting it. 

Even so, you could also get in trouble for having a trace amount of marijuana in your system, which can be detectable in bodily fluids from a few days to a few weeks after use. Indiana has a zero tolerance law for THC and metabolites, or the byproducts from the drug breaking down. So you don't necessarily need to be high to potentially get in trouble with the law. 

Capt. David Bursten of the Indiana State Police said if an officer suspects impairment by a substance other than alcohol, the driver is offered a blood test.

"Those who refuse the offer of a blood test could be held for a reasonable amount of time for the investigating officer to apply for a search warrant that would require obtainment of a blood sample by a medical professional, even against the will of the suspected impaired driver," he explained. 

If the test comes back positive for illegal drugs, the driver would be summoned to court to have his or her case heard. 

Indiana State Police Sgt. Ted Bohner of District 24, which includes Elkhart and St. Joseph counties which border Michigan, said it's too early to tell if this will increase the amount of impaired drivers in Indiana.

"We're going to keep doing business as usual," he said. "We're actively out there looking for impaired drivers as it is."

Can I be fired for legally smoking marijuana in Michigan?

Yes. Indiana is an "at will" employment state, which means an employer can terminate an employee for any reason. So if an employer orders a drug test for an employee and it comes back positive for marijuana, the employee can lose his or her job.