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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Michigan's U.S. Attorneys say marijuana is still illegal, despite passage of Prop 1

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Federal prosecutors are reminding Michiganders that the state’s new recreational marijuana law doesn’t give them immunity from federal prosecution.

This week, Michigan voters gave their OK to legalizing recreational marijuana.

But despite Michigan’s vote, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Michigan’s two U.S. Attorneys have issued a joint statement saying they will continue to “approach the investigation and prosecution of marijuana crimes as we do with any other crime.”

Detroit U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider and Grand Rapids U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge issued a statement saying they will not “unilaterally immunize” anyone from prosecution for violating federal laws simply because of the passage of Proposal 1.

The statement acknowledges federal prosecutors in Michigan have not focused much on marijuana users or low-level offenders, adding that will not change. The federal prosecutors say they are increasingly focused on combating the opioid epidemic, not marijuana.  

A national marijuana activist says other U.S. Attorneys have issued similar statements, but in the end they have not interfered in states that legalize marijuana

“We expect that Michigan's state government will implement the marijuana legalization policy without federal interference,” says Marijuana Policy Project Deputy Director Matthew Schweich, who was the campaign director for the Yes on 1 campaign. 

Schweich is hopeful Congress will enact a marijuana reform bill that establishes marijuana as a states' rights issue.

Michigan will be one of ten states where recreational marijuana is legal. Some form of medical marijuana is legal in more than half the states.