Smoke on the Water: What Michigan’s Pot Law Means for Boaters [VIDEO]
As the weather (finally) starts to become favorable for boating season, many people have questions about Michigan's new recreational marijuana regulations and what they mean for boaters.
This marks the first summer where possession and use of marijuana are legal in Michigan, and as it is with all things pot-related, the answer is complicated.
WOOD-TV spoke with Ottawa County Sgt. Eric Westveer who says that while his department is prepared for changes that are taking place, they're still learning about all the legal implications of the new regulations.
"It's something we are prepared for, and we are making sure we are prepared for it. But, I mean, it's new, it's new to us, new to all law enforcement, new to the people," he says.
Westveer says that smoking in public is not allowed, so anyone who is doing so while visible to the public or law enforcement officials will be in violation of the law. Smoking in private quarters like a lower deck or enclosed area should be considered legal. Possession of marijuana, as long as the state's limits are observed, is also legal on the water.
But wait. Not everything is perfectly clear.
Westveer points out that the Great Lakes and all bodies of water connected to them are considered federal water, which falls under the jurisdiction of the US Coast Guard. The Coast Guard abides by federal law, and under federal law, marijuana is still considered illegal.
And he adds that operating a boat while high is not permitted. Essentially the same rules that apply to operating a car on the road apply to driving a boat.