Implementing Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

In the 2012 election, Massachusetts passed a ballot question calling for the legalization of medical marijuana (and yes, it’s depressing that passed, but an assisted suicide law did not. Priorities…). As I noted the last time a marijuana-related ballot question arose in Massachusetts, implementation is very important. That post generated a lot of anger (as well as strong support) because I wasn’t looking at the big picture. But how legislation is enacted and the day-to-day consequences are very important because people have to like this crap. Which returns us to the medical marijuana initiative (boldface mine):

Burned up Massachusetts landlords are fuming with concern over the state’s newly passed but hazy medicinal marijuana law. The law — rolling out Jan. 1 — grants medical marijuana users the right to grow a two-month supply of weed at home if they cannot get to a marijuana dispensary because they are too sick or too broke. The new law also potentially opens landlords up to federal prosecution for violating the federal controlled substances laws.

Skip Schloming, executive director of the state’s Small Property Owners Association, expressed deep concern about the 60-day supply provision:

“You could have as many as 24 plants that are 6 feet tall,” Schloming told the Herald. “And that could cause all sorts of property damage, from water damage, to mold and humidity, to wiring issues that could cause a fire. … This has the potential to be a disaster.”

There are legitimate concerns here–federal drug laws are something you don’t want to screw around with:

Bay State landlords are also concerned about running afoul of federal drug laws as marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law. Landlords are begging Beacon Hill lawmakers to give them the right to refuse to rent to tenants who grow pot for medical use over fears their property could be seized. As reported in the Boston Herald, commercial and residential landlords are right to worry, drug forfeiture attorneys say, because landlords can be charged as conspirators if their tenants are targeted by the feds.

There are also potential problems of property damage and home invasion:

First, a medical marijuana grower could be targeted for burglarization. Second, maintaining marijuana cultivation requires specialized equipment not necessarily compatible with close-knit apartment living. I did some research, and found this website dedicated to hydroponic growing equipment. Growing marijuana plants is fairly sophisticated. Growers need to monitor pH and moisture levels, carbon dioxide outputs and germination of seeds. Failure of this equipment could conceivably cause mold, mildew and other damage to interior units.

This is something the Massachusetts Legislature needs to fix–keep it legal, but realize that apartment buildings are communities of people, not individuals living in self-contained bubbles. This has to be made to work for everyone in the community, otherwise it will lose support rapidly.

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2 Responses to Implementing Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

  1. MCA says:

    Aside from the legal stuff, the concerns about moisture could easily be overcome with basic plant setups. I grew 5-foot wide tropical plants in my last apartment at 70% humidity, and the humidity never escaped their enclosure to any noticeable or damaging degree. I’m quite sad they didn’t survive the move – they’d be the size of Xmas trees by now, and capable of eating mice.

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