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Michigan Passes Legal Marijuanas Laws, Colorado Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

Michigan voters passed legal marijuana legislation in 2016, making marijuana consumption legal in public places. The states of Washington and Colorado also have legalized recreational use. The new laws in both states will make marijuana available to adults over 21 for recreational purposes, though possession of up to two ounces is still illegal. The new law will allow for up to six plants per person and twelve plants per household. The state’s regulation and licensing superintendent, Linda Trujillo, said recreational sales will not begin until 2022.

The federal government has been largely hands-off in its enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws in states where it is legal to grow and sell marijuana. In the Obama administration, for example, federal prosecutors were told not to prosecute people who possessed and distributed marijuana in accordance with state medical marijuana laws. This directive, known as the Cole Memo, reflected an expectation that states would carry out robust enforcement efforts. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recently revoked the Cole Memo, instructing prosecutors to rely on established prosecutorial principles and their own judgment in determining whether to file charges.

While most states allow recreational use of marijuana, South Dakota’s law was overturned in the state’s highest court. Despite this, the state’s legislature approved both a medical and recreational marijuana ballot measure for the 2020 elections. Though South Dakota has been excluded from the list of states where marijuana use is legal, the state has been legalized for adult use for many years in New Mexico, Virginia, and Connecticut. Likewise, Canada legalized the drug on a federal level. However, the US government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance.

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