Medical marijuana restrictions are nothing new. In fact, many property owners in Massachusetts, including residential landlords, are trying to ban their tenants and visitors from using medical marijuana, despite a legalization bill approved by voters. These types of medical marijuana restrictions are not uncommon, and now they have some support in the state Legislature. State Rep. Cleon Turner has filed bills that would make it possible for landlords and property owners to bar all growing and smoking on their properties. This would alter the comprehensive rules and regulations approved by the Massachusetts Public Health Council in May.
What these Medical Marijuana Restrictions Mean for Patients
Turner’s legislation was scheduled for a vote by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on June 19. Among other things, it would give certain entities authority to bar smoking in many indoor settings – including apartments and other residences. Landlords and property owners have pushed for the new restrictions, saying the current rules don’t address all their concerns. But rules that prohibit indoor residential marijuana smoking could have serious implications for patients with debilitating illnesses who can’t smoke outside. The owners and landlords who support the legislation say they don’t want to be in violation of federal anti-marijuana laws. They also don’t want smoking or grows to damage their properties with burn marks, water damage or mold.
Turner’s proposal would give owners and landlords the power to ban all indoor pot smoking. It doesn’t address the use of marijuana food products, teas or other non-smoked forms of weed. It also gives cities and other municipalities the explicit power to ban marijuana smoking in public places. And it dictates that all smoking bans, public and private, automatically apply to marijuana unless the property owner affirmatively states otherwise.
Current Massachusetts Legislation
It’s not yet certain how the Legislature will lean. The current law on medical marijuana restrictions such as these is muddied. Landlords and property owners are allowed to bar cigarette smoking in their buildings. But medical pot smokers are considered disabled, and it’s unlawful to ask about their use of medication. Prohibiting medical marijuana use may also be discriminatory under current law. But that would change under Turner’s legislation. At the same time, it’s not entirely clear where Massachusetts politicians stand on the new medical marijuana law. A number of local leaders have tried to ban it in their cities, without success, while others have said they welcome dispensaries. The attorney general took a strong stand for dispensaries, issuing an opinion that towns and cities cannot zone them out of business.
If I take medication in a public space, it usually affects no one but me. But, If I smoke marijuana in a public space, it has a potential to affect others just as smoking cigarettes does.
Rep. Cleon Turner
While politicians try to reshape Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law, state bureaucrats continue to put pieces of the program in place. Working with the rules approved last month, the state Department of Public Health is preparing the medical marijuana system for patient use. Massachusetts voters approved medical marijuana by a 63 percent majority in November. Their state is the 18th in the nation to legalize the medicinal use of weed. The rules adopted in May set a number of limitations and restrictions on patients, caretakers and providers. Patients, for example will be limited to 10 ounces per 60 days and must suffer from a “debilitating medical condition.” The Department of Public Health has said its rules are sufficient to address concerns about medical marijuana.
Featured Image courtesy Mark (eggrole)