TRAVERSE CITY — Ray Montero can’t wait for December.
The Michigan native just returned to her home state from Oregon — where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2014 — and wants to pick up where she left off.
“It’s like the best thing ever, but that’s coming from a user,” Montero said. “I definitely hope to see dispensaries — and see people grow it themselves so they can see the whole process. It connects you to your medicine.”
Michigan voters hit the polls Tuesday to approve state Proposal 1 — legalizing recreational marijuana — by more than 55 percent, according to the Associated Press. It makes Michigan the 10th state to do so.
Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Leelanau county voters all favored the ballot measure.
Montero didn’t move in time to vote in the Nov. 6 election, but said support wasn’t hard to find.
“Everyone in my family — and everyone I know in Michigan — voted for it,” she said.
The proposal takes effect 10 days after canvassers certify the results, Traverse City Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht said.
The vote means residents 21 and older may consume marijuana, but municipalities still have decisions to make — they still can ban marijuana businesses from opening shop in their borders.
Trible-Laucht said she’s advising the city to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana establishments for now. City commissioners would need to adopt an ordinance to opt in. Opting out wouldn’t impact city residents who otherwise are following the new law.
Commissioner Brian McGillivary said city residents overwhelmingly approved legalizing recreational weed and sees no reason why the city shouldn’t allow it as soon as the state writes its rules. People looking to buy and use cannabis otherwise would be forced to use the same illicit channels as before, he said.
Acme Township opted to allow medical marijuana businesses. Township Supervisor Jay Zollinger said it’s too soon for trustees to decide on recreational enterprises.
“We’d like to see the new rules and see what they apply (to) and how they interact with medical marijuana,” he said.
Garfield Township leaders decided not to allow medical cannabis businesses and Supervisor Chuck Korn expects trustees to vote against recreational pot places as well.
That could change if township leaders find out their voters approved Proposal 1, Korn said. In the meantime, he’s expecting some confusion following the vote.
“I think we’re in for another roller-coaster ride waiting for LARA (Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs) to develop the rules and regulations,” he said. “It’ll be a messy process again.”
Kalkaska leaders embraced medical marijuana businesses. Village President Harley Wales expects voters did the same at the polls for recreational marijuana. The recreational marijuana issue will go before the council for consideration after the count, he said.
Solon Township already opted out of recreational dispensaries and leaders intend to pass an ordinance to make it official, said Supervisor Jim Lautner.
Some governments appear to fear the changes. Other Michiganders are more confident in the vote.
“I have mixed thoughts on it, to be honest,” said Tami Parks, who voted against the proposal. “I’m concerned it’s going to cost more to set that up than it’s worth. If we don’t manage it well, it could be disastrous.”
“I think the state can use the revenue from it,” said Brandon Marcincavage. “People are going to smoke anyways, we might as well make money on it.”
The new law leaves local authorities scrambling to prepare to enforce them.
Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel is continuing to learn the different regulations. The basics are clear — legal users cannot smoke in public or while driving.
“We’re all going to be in learning mode,” Schendel said.
Benzie County and Grand Traverse County deputies will go through similar training.
Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley fears Michigan will see impacts like more people driving high causing deadly car crashes. He also pointed to the fact that recreational marijuana use still is illegal federally.
Today’s marijuana strains are much stronger than the old “Woodstock weed,” Bensley said. Those users could take to the roads with the highly-concentrated strains running through their bloodstreams, he said.
There is no way to effectively test drivers for THC, Bensley said. Some counties are trying out a pilot roadside test that could help. Schendel said his deputies only can conduct the same roadside tests they use for drunken drivers, but they await something similar to a breathalyzer test.
Research lacks concerning acceptable amounts in the blood stream while driving, Schendel said.
The punishment for driving under the influence of marijuana also will need to be set. Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney, who soon begins his term as an 86th District Court judge, said those defendants will see punishments similar to those of drunken drivers — probation with terms that ban alcohol, marijuana and other drug use.
David Cantrell, of Traverse City, hopes the legalization means fewer people being charged for possessing and using the drug.
“I think it’s about time — it’s clogged up the courts and prisons,” he said. “It’s giving people criminal records who aren’t criminals.”
Cooney expects to see younger defendants in the courtroom.
Bensley and Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Superintendent Nick Ceglarek share that same concern.
“We want to make sure we keep our kids safe and healthy,” he said. “Unfortunately we have some students within our districts that get alcohol when they shouldn’t and use that. Whenever there’s a substance that might be more readily accessible to our students, that could create a situation where they’re not safe.”
Christine Guitar, TCAPS executive director of communications, said the “passage of Prop 1 in Michigan is not expected to have a major impact on school health curriculum, as marijuana use by students was illegal before Prop 1 and remains illegal after its passage for anyone under the age of 21.”
Voters are looking ahead.
“I’m so excited that it’s happening as I’m moving back,” Montero said. “I can get back into growing, using and being around that magical plant.”
Mark Johnson, Brooke Kansier, Sheri McWhirter, Jordan Travis, Brendan Quealy and Alexa Zoellner contributed to this report.
The approved proposal:
— Allows people 21 and older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana edibles. Residents can also grow up to 12 marijuana plants for their own use
— Includes a 10-ounce limit for marijuana possession. Amounts exceeding 2.5 ounces will be required to be kept in locked containers
— Includes creation of a state licensing system for marijuana businesses — growers, processors, transporters and retailers
— Allows municipalities to ban or restrict marijuana businesses
— Allows commercial sales of marijuana and marijuana edibles through state-licensed retailers. A 10-percent tax will apply to the sales, with monies going to schools, roads and municipalities where marijuana businesses are located.