The use of recreational cannabis has been legalized in 23 states as of fall 2023, and 38 states, plus Washington, D.C., have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Travelers who use it recreationally or to treat health conditions should be aware of the relevant laws in the destinations they visit. Here’s what you need to know about cannabis in Grand Rapids.
Note: We’re using cannabis throughout this article rather than other terms like marijuana, pot, grass, ganja, dope, mary jane and 420 because the city of Grand Rapids is transitioning into using cannabis in all its ordinances, policies, and forms. This move is intended to help eliminate any historical stigma that may be associated with the other terms.
Cannabis is legal in Grand Rapids
It’s perfectly legal for adults age 21+ to partake of cannabis in Grand Rapids and throughout Michigan – both for medicinal and recreational purposes. That applies to both residents and visitors. Michigan voters approved legalized cannabis in 2018. Since then, Michigan has become the second-largest cannabis market in the country, behind only California.
That doesn’t mean you can use it anywhere
Michigan state law specifies that any use of cannabis must take place in private. It is illegal to use cannabis in any form (smoking, vaping, edibles, dabs, tinctures, etc.) in a public space. This applies to both medical and recreational use. For example, you CANNOT consume cannabis:
- Out in public where anyone can see you.
- While driving or sitting in a vehicle on a Michigan roadway.
- In a boat on a Michigan waterway.
- Around the campfire at a Michigan state park or on a state park beach or trail.
- On private property where cannabis use is expressly prohibited.
You CAN consume cannabis on private property whose owners consent to its use, such as a residence, rental property, B&B, or hotel that allows it. (We don’t know of any area hotels that permit it.) You must secure your host’s approval. Private-property hosts cannot stop you from possessing a legal amount of cannabis or from using non-smokable forms, such as edibles or concentrates.
There are limits to how much you can possess
An adult may purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis at a time in Michigan; up to 15 grams of cannabis may be in the form of cannabis concentrate. Possession of more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 5 ounces of cannabis is a civil infraction. Possession of more than 5 ounces is a misdemeanor. Possession of any amount within 1,000 feet of a park is not permitted.
Within a residence, an adult may possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana and any marijuana cultivated on the premises – but fewer than 12 plants may be grown for personal use.
Where to purchase cannabis
The city of Grand Rapids is home to a number of licensed provisioning centers and licensed retailers where you can legally purchase all manner of cannabis products. A provisioning center is a facility that has a medical marijuana license while a retailer is only licensed to sell cannabis for adult recreational use. Many provisioning centers also sell recreational products.
A medical marijuana card can give you access to a wider range of products and allow you to pay a lower tax on them. Provisioning centers may choose to accept valid medical marijuana cards (or their equivalent) from other states.
The Cannabis Regulatory Agency of Michigan maintains an interactive map of licensed cannabis facilities in Grand Rapids and across the state.
Cannabis beyond Grand Rapids
Cannabis laws are consistent across the state. However, individual municipalities can decide whether to allow cannabis sales within their boundaries. While the majority of licensed facilities in Kent County are clustered in Grand Rapids, several outlying cities also host cannabis operations. Consult the Cannabis Regulatory Agency of Michigan map for locations around Kent County and beyond.
Individuals can’t sell cannabis to each other
Selling cannabis in Michigan is a felony, punishable by prison terms and fines that escalate according to the amount of sold. Cannabis can be legally sold and purchased only in state-licensed facilities.
You CAN (as an adult) transfer up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis to another adult as long as there is no money paid and the transfer is not advertised or promoted to the public. Distribution of more than 2.5 ounces and less than 5 ounces without money involved is a civil infraction.
Traveling with cannabis
Even though it’s legal in Michigan, cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. This drug classification carries the harshest penalties for possession and use. Airports are technically considered federal property and thus follow federal law rather than state law. You can still be charged with a federal crime for possessing or using marijuana in a U.S. airport, including our Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
It is also a federal crime to transport cannabis across state borders, so you can’t take it back home with you if you don’t live in Michigan. You CAN drive with a legal amount of cannabis in your vehicle in Michigan, if the cannabis products are kept in a sealed container or in the trunk of your car.
Traveling with CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active ingredients in cannabis. It’s often used to calm anxiety and treat pain. Traveling through airports, across state borders, and within Michigan is generally fine as long as the CBD in your product is derived from hemp, not marijuana, and it contains no more than 0.3% THC (the compound in cannabis that makes people feel “high”). Unless you’re traveling to Idaho, that is, where only THC-free CBD is permissible. (It’s always best to check local laws before you go.)
Promoting social equity
Grand Rapids and the state of Michigan promote and encourage participation in the cannabis industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by historical prohibition and enforcement, and support cannabis businesses that positively impact those communities.
Pharmhouse Wellness, just five minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, earned the state’s first Social Equity All-Star Gold award in July 2022. The business was recognized for its investments in social equity and community improvement.
Cannabis and tourism
The Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Grand Valley State University began offering a minor in Cannabis Operations Management in fall 2022, in recognition of the growth of the cannabis industry. It is the fourth Michigan university to develop a curriculum around cannabis, and the first to offer interdisciplinary, community-focused credentialing on the subject. National Geographic recently consulted GVSU professor John Lipford for an article on cannabis tourism.
For more information and education on cannabis in Michigan, visit the Cannabis Regulatory Agency page at Michigan.gov.