America’s Midwest is becoming a more popular vacation destination, especially for domestic travelers who can’t yet escape the U.S. due to COVID lockdowns in other countries. Fortunately, the Midwest is much more exciting than many tourists anticipate — especially if you factor in all the recent changes to cannabis law around the region.
Whether you are planning a weed-centered vacation or have a passing interest in partaking of pot during your trip, here is a straightforward guide to getting some legal ganja in the Midwest.
Michigan was the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational cannabis. In truth, the more progressive corners of Michigan have decriminalized the drug for decades; in Ann Arbor, particularly, cannabis consumption has been all but encouraged since the ‘60s, when residents passed a referendum reducing the penalty for possession of up to two ounces of flower to just $5.
Today, Michigan law allows anyone aged 21 or older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of flower in public (or up to 10 ounces of flower in private). As a visitor to Michigan, you can either buy your bud at a state-licensed provisioning center — the state’s term for recreational dispensary — or you can be gifted small amounts of cannabis from friends, family, or strangers in the street. You should try to limit your consumption to private spaces, like your 420-friendly accommodations, but if you consume responsibly using discreet methods, like vape or edibles, you can get away with being high in public.
Not every corner of Michigan is accepting of cannabis consumption. The Upper Peninsula isn’t as progressive as the Lower Peninsula; you can find more marijuana dispensaries in Southern Michigan, and you will likely find more tourist-friendly activities in big southern cities like Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor. However, if you want to get away from civilization, you can stop in the south to buy bud and then journey to scenic areas of the U.P., like Copper Harbor, the Porcupine Mountains, or Sault Saint Marie. Again, it isn’t advisable to light up in full public view, but if you find a safe, secluded spot in nature, you likely won’t get in serious trouble for enjoying a high.
Though Illinois is only the second Midwestern state to legalize cannabis, it was among the first to bake social equity measures into its cannabis regulations. Though legalization helps to curb racial inequities in criminal drug enforcement and incarceration, it does little to lift up communities of color that have been afflicted by unfair drug laws for decades. Illinois lawmakers ensured that those suffering from minor drug convictions would have their records expunged, and entrepreneurs of color interested in participating in the legal cannabis industry would have more resources to reach success.
If you are a visitor to Illinois you can only possess about half an ounce, or 15 grams, or dry cannabis flower — which is half of what Illinois residents are allowed to possess. As in Michigan, not every part of the state is amenable to cannabis consumption; it is safest to stay in the Chicago area, which has a higher density of dispensaries, 420-friendly accommodations, and activities for stoners to enjoy. For example, you could get high and walk around any of Chicago’s world-famous museums, or you could indulge your munchies at any of Chicago’s foodie havens.
South Dakota went from zero to 100 in terms of cannabis legalization. Last year, the state prohibited cannabis in all forms, but after a whirlwind voting season, South Dakotans should now have access to both medical marijuana and recreational weed from state-licensed dispensaries — if only the government would listen to its constituents.
Though South Dakota’s Department of Health is accepting applications for marijuana retailers, the state judicial system has currently barred recreational possession and consumption, asserting that the initiative passed in November 2020 was unconstitutional. Until the issue works its way through the courts, you probably won’t be able to access much weed in South Dakota. Still, considering that SD is the only other (arguably) Midwestern state to consider legalizing bud, it is worth keeping the Mount Rushmore State on your domestic weed-cation radar.
If you haven’t ever spent time in the Midwest, now is your chance. You can guarantee that your Midwestern adventure is fun and exciting by scheduling some time in cannabis hotspots — but in truth, there is plenty to do in this part of the country stone-cold sober.