Michigan implemented medical marijuana laws in 2008, allowing properly licensed people to grow and consume cannabis as part of a medical treatment program without fear of criminal prosecution. However, there are certain restrictions in place regarding marijuana use and cultivation that people may not be aware of, which can lead to criminal charges, fines, or other legal problems if these rules are broken. Here are three things you should know about medical marijuana laws in Michigan.

Marijuana Can Only Be Transported in a Vehicle's Trunk

You are allowed to posses up to two and a half ounces of usable marijuana on your person. This isn't a problem if you're walking around town or using public transportation. However, Michigan has implemented a statute that essentially makes it illegal to drive with marijuana inside a vehicle.

According to Public Act 460, marijuana can only be transported in a container that is placed in the truck of the vehicle. If the vehicle doesn't have a trunk—as is the case with many trucks—then the container must be placed in a part of the vehicle's interior that's not readily accessible (e.g. under the passenger seat). Failure to comply with this regulation can lead you to being charged with a misdemeanor, sentenced to up to 93 days in jail if convicted, and assessed a $500 fine.

This law only applies to usable marijuana, though. You can transport plants and seeds inside the vehicle without getting into trouble.

You Cannot Consume Marijuana in Your Vehicle

You likely already know you can't smoke marijuana while driving or operate a vehicle while under the influence of the drug. This prohibition comes from the state's DUI/DWI laws that ban driving while intoxicated. Having a medical marijuana license won't save you here. You will face the same criminal penalties drivers do when they are arrested and convicted of driving drunk.

However, Michigan marijuana laws goes one step further and prohibits people from smoking marijuana in parked vehicles. Even if you consume the cannabis cigarette while lying down in the back seat of your car, you'll get in trouble if the police catch you.

This is because Michigan prohibits the use of marijuana in public places, and the Court of Appeals in the state clarified that vehicles parked outside of private businesses or other areas accessible by the general populace is considered a public place. This means you could potentially get in trouble even for smoking in your vehicle parked in your own driveway if you lived around other people.

The defendant in the case heard by the Michigan Court of Appeals was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana for smoking cannabis in his vehicle. This charge carries a potential jail term of up to 1 year and a $2,000 fine. However, using marijuana is a misdemeanor that comes with an up to 90 jail sentence and a maximum $100 fine. Which violation you may be charged with will depend on the circumstances of your case.

Unlicensed People Cannot Have Access to Marijuana Plants

A third way people can get in trouble is by simply having access to the plants without being properly licensed. Even if you don't smoke the substance, handling the plants (e.g. trimming, watering, etc) can land you in legal hot water. Only the person with the medical marijuana license is allowed to handle or be in the same room as the plants. Other people who may be living in the home where the plants are grown cannot even possess a key to the room or area where the plants reside.

Violation of this rule could result in the unlicensed person being charged with possession of marijuana, and the licensed person could lose his or her medical marijuana card.

Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense to breaking it. Therefore, it's incumbent upon you to learn about the laws governing the use and transport of marijuana. For more information about this issue or assistance with defending against criminal charges, contact a marijuana defense attorney, such as Russ Jones Attorney At Law.