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Marijuana in Michigan: Law Enforcement participated in town hall to answer questions about what's legal

NOW: Marijuana in Michigan: Law Enforcement participated in town hall to answer questions about what’s legal

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Where can I have and smoke legal marijuana in Michigan?

Thursday at a town hall meeting in Benton Harbor, residents, local leaders and law enforcement talked about what’s allowed and what’s not.

Police in Berrien County have already issued 15 tickets to people confused about where it’s legal to smoke.

Gwen Swanigan, CEO of the S.H.A.R.P. Foundation, organized Thursday’s town hall because she said there a lot of unanswered questions.

“I know people are confused on what they can and can’t do all the way across the state,” Sharp said. “I haven’t really seen anything but I’ve heard people like ‘oh it’s legal now, I can go out and smoke’ but that’s not the case.”

Law enforcement say it’s better to ask questions now then to end up with an infraction or even worse later. Paul Bailey, Berrien County Sheriff, was a part of the town hall’s panel and said it’s easy to prevent getting infractions. Just don’t have any more than what’s allowed.

Anyone over 21 can have 2.5 ounces of marijuana on them at any time and can store up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home. Those over 21 can also grow 12 marijuana plants.

“It’s pretty simple, if you’re 21 years or over you can possess 2.5 ounces on you at any time,” Bailey said.

While the rules and regulations for recreational marijuana are still a little hazy in Michigan as the kinks are being worked out, there are a few things that remain the same as before.

“Impairment still applies,” Dale Hinz said, inspector of Michigan State Police. “Operating under the influence of marijuana, just like any other drug that impairs your ability to operate, will still get you arrested.”

Mike Sepic, Berrien County Prosecutor, reiterated the importance of not selling marijuana at the town hall as some of the old marijuana laws may still apply. He used an example to explain.

“Previously, if I gave Mr. Rena some marijuana, that would be delivery, a felony,” Sepic said. “But right now, I can give him up to 2.5 ounces without remuteration. But if I sell it to him, the old rule still applies.”

For many who attended the town hall, all of this was helpful, especially the dialogue between citizens and officers. Rick Anstiss attended Thursday’s town hall because it was the first open dialogue in the Benton Harbor area.

“I saw numerous people ask questions so people can feel a little bit less nervous when they ask an officer a question about marijuana,” Anstiss said. “I think that’s really important.”

One of the big takeaways was that marijuana can’t be smoked in public. That includes in your car or on your porch, otherwise you could be issued an infraction of up to $1,000. After your third offense, it’s considered a misdemeanor.

Law enforcement is encouraging an open door policy for anyone who has remaining questions about marijuana.

“Please ask the questions if you have the questions. You don’t want to roll the dice and figure out you were wrong,” Hinz said.

That open door policy applies for Benton Harbor Police, Benton Township Police, The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, and Michigan State Police. They say just call or show up if you have questions.

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