Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Moral vs. Legal Dilemma of Mass. HOAs Banning Its Homeowners from Medical Marijuana Usage

'Doobie'-ous Voters of Massachusetts

In this blog we will recap recent legislation for medical marijuana in Massachusetts, and discuss how this impacts HOA guidelines for marijuana smoking in units as well as the moral versus legal dilemma:
Should HOAs give leniency to unit owners who hold registered marijuana prescription cards and are protected by the new possession laws, despite living among other unit owners who do not want to live among reefer-toking neighbors? 

Statewide Decriminalization in 2008

The legalization of  marijuana has been a hot topic since the election of President Obama in 2008. His support for the legalization has caused major changes to the public's perception of the drug, and was part of the reason Massachusetts voters were asked to vote on the decriminalization of pot possession in 2008.

Medical Marijuana Approved in 2012

Four years later on November 6, 2012, the state's voters elected the Commonwealth to become the 18th state to allow medical marijuana treatment for patients prescribed from physicians. A total of twenty states have legislated  provisions for medicinal usage of pot,  including the offense levels enforced by police (i.e. $100-fines issued to offenders instead of arrests for possession levels of under an ounce, growth in one's own home due to financial hardship).

First Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Open in MA

Just last month in late January 2014, twenty locations were approved by the state legislature for licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries in Western Massachusetts, the Greater Boston area, the North and South shore, and Cape Cod regions.

Despite the overwhelming positive response  surrounding Boston area license-hosting suburban cities, from lawmakers, and even  former Boston-based police veterans  alike, many voters still oppose this rally on the progression of pot usage.  Aside from legality, the directional tilt of the moral compass comes into question.

HOAs and Medical Marijuana Usage

So what does this means for the HOAs and condo owners patients who dwell in condo buildings in these regions of Massachusetts? 

Are HOAs able to override the constitutional rights of owners that may disturb neighbors, possibly with children, who reluctantly catch a whiff from a  burned "spliff" near their respective home? 

In a state such as Colorado, where medical marijuana  became legalized, HOAs only have the right to waive constitutional rights of the owners unless the marijuana usage of a condo resident within the association becomes a nuisance.  This is explained in a recent article of Colorado-based periodical The Cannabist, which details the complications of an HOA having the right to give a condo owners the boot from their building if they offend other residents. Legal analyst Jerry Orten states in the article that there must be a two-thirds vote from the HOA board members to ban the cultivation or usage of pot in the condo building. Orten continues:
" People can agree to things which waive their constitutional rights. That's the essence of covenants. An association can have a covenant precluding the use of marijuana."
As explained in our previous blog post about HOA voting, the association must meet the quorum standards to have the vote be official. Also, another obstacle for those who support the ban of pot in HOAs is the contradiction of state law that support medical marijuana usage, which protects these types of patients to live however they need to survive in the vicinity of their own homes.

Final Thoughts

Not only does this have a question of morality versus legality, but also question the future value of your property -  if potential home-buyers know about the allowance of pot usage within your HOA. It could either help bring in home-buyers, or turn them away with that knowledge of the HOA's laws on marijuana usage on their building's grounds.

Are you in favor of supporting a ban on pot for your HOA? Do you think it can add to your property's future value? Or does freedom outweigh home value to you? Would you vote in support  for one's privacy and medical marijuana usage in one's own home?

Tell us you thoughts!