Toledo, OH - According to a 1997 report from a link on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website, marijuana is the most used illegal drug in the United States.
Eric Gerst, who works for a hydroponic grow store in Ann Arbor, MI, says 90% of his clients are marijuana growers.
Michigan is just one of many states legalizing it for medical use.
"Now we're up to 17 states and the District of Columbia that have either embraced this through voter initiative, or in a few states, the legislature have done it," says Gerst.
There is now one more, making 18 state, plus DC. A full list can be found on any pro marijuana website like the one in this link.
In 2008, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), was passed by Michigan State lawmakers.
"You are allowed to grow up to twelve plants, or you can possess up to 2 1/2 oz of dried, usable medicine at any time," explains Gerst.
Though federal law still defines it as an illegal substance.
"Federal law has jurisdictional prejudice over any state or local municipality," Gerst says.
Basement oerations are often done legally in Michigan, according to state law, but a concern is that the finished product is making its way South of the border into Ohio, where it is still illegal.
Makeshift rooms filled with marijuana plants cover the basement floors of growers, and one man thinks it would be an easy task to bring pot into Ohio, especially Toledo.
Being a border city, and because pot is illegal in Ohio, it can fetch a premuim price, Sometimes double what a seller can get in Michigan.
"I can't image a border dispute over drugs between Michigan and Ohio," says the man, wishes to remain unidentified, but we will call "Cary"
But he says most people he knows in the "business," wouldn't want to take that risk.
"I think most people I know are pretty terrified with breaking the law with it at all," he says.
I spoke with a DEA investigator, he told me, "They will not devote their resources to those in compliance with state law," and "They only target large scale operations."
According to Ohio State law, a person caught carrying, or even selling pot in Ohio would face only misdemeaner charges, so long as the amount is less than 200 grams, which is about 7.05oz.
Toledo say that the chance is very slim that a person cught with an amount under that limit would face any jail time.
As of March 29, 2013, there were more than 130,000 registered qualified patients in michigan, and over 27,000 licensed caregivers.
"You can designate someone, a caregiver, who can have your plants and medicine," explains Eric Gerst, "They grow it and produce it for you, and give it to you if you can't do it for yourself."
A caregiver can legally grow for up to five patients, 12 plants for every one patient. If the grower/caregiver is a patient himself, he may grow 12 for himself. For a maximum total of 72 plants for a grower/caregiver/patient.
Many people I spoke with think the legalization is is only a matter of time.
"There are so many states legalizing it, that the ball is definitely rolling, But there is a lot of people trying to stop it, trying to squash that ball," says "Cary."
But he isn't holding his breath.
"It could be [legalized] in the next presidential election... It could be never," he says.
But as a grower and patient who follows the court rulings on the controversial subject, he does expect decisions to be made in the near future, one way of the other.
"It's just a matter of how hard people are willing to push, and who's on which side pushing," says "Cary."
And while the many states that have laws legalizing marijuana are in directly violation of federal marijuana laws, growers, smokers, and suppliers don't expect to face reprocussions with the federal government, so long as they are in compliance with the state laws.
Eric Gerst explains, "99% of all those cases are prosecuted at the state level. It's very rare for the federal government to be involved in a marijuana case."
And if a felony charge comes with amounts over about seven ounces, that means an individual can have anywhere from $1,200-$3,000 worth of pot on them. Or more depending on quality.
And they may face only minimal backlash with the law, at least in the State of Ohio.
Recently, Ohio State Representative Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown) has introduced a measure that would put marijuana legalization on the ballot before state voters.
Under the proposal, people 21 or older would be allowed to purchase and use marijuana. But it would be sold only by state-licensed establishments, and would be subject to a 15% tax.