Massachusetts medical marijuana

Decision Could Have Wide Impact Upon Marijuana Use By Tenants

The law on marijuana and rental housing remains clouded to say the least. And that’s no pun. This week on April 8th, the Supreme Judicial Court will consider the first of probably many cases dealing with marijuana use in rental housing. In this particular case, Boston Housing Authority v. Figgs (SJC 11532), the high court will assess whether a state housing authority may evict a subsidized tenant and terminate her federal housing benefits for the alleged possession of less than one ounce of marijuana — which is no longer a criminal offense in Massachusetts, but still a crime under federal law. With the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, the rollout of the medical marijuana dispensaries and the conflict with federal drug laws, this case may have wide-ranging impacts upon the relationships of landlords, tenants, housing authorities and even condominium owners and trustees over the use of marijuana, both recreationally and medicinally.

Oral arguments are available via live stream here. Legal briefs and filings in the case can be found here. A final opinion and ruling is expected this summer.

This case should also put the new Medical Marijuana Law into re-focus. Landlords have been increasingly anxious about how to manage and regulate tenants’ use of medical and recreational marijuana, if at all. The law not only grants qualified patients the right to obtain medical marijuana but it also allows patients the right to grow a two-month supply of marijuana at home if they cannot get to a marijuana dispensary because they are too sick or too broke. There is a bill in the Legislature granting landlords the right to prohibit medical marijuana on rental property without fear of being sued for disability discrimination.

I’ll be monitoring this new and dynamic area of the law. It will surely be a hot topic in the next couple of years.


100316_photo_vetstein (2)-1Richard D. Vetstein, Esq. is an experience Massachusetts landlord tenant and real estate attorney. If you are concerned or have questions about the new Medical Marijuana Law, please contact him at[email protected].



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massachusetts medical marijuanaAttorney General Strikes Down Wakefield Ban On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

As I predicted months ago, Massachusetts towns cannot enact zoning by-laws prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in town, as the Attorney General has just ruled in an advisory opinion involving the Town of Wakefield. In the same ruling, the Attorney General advised that towns do have the authority through its zoning powers to regulate the location, operating hours, and other zoning related aspects of these dispensaries. In a separate ruling involving the Town of Burlington, the AG ruled that towns may enact a temporary moratorium (through June 2014) on the opening of marijuana dispensaries.

The AG’s medical marijuana ruling for Wakefield can be read here. The AG’s medical marijuana ruling for Burlington can be read here.

Now it will be up to towns and cities to regulate where medical marijuana centers will be located within their borders — for example, near a hospital, in an industrial area or away from schools or residential areas.

This is the first legal ruling involving medical marijuana in the Commonwealth, and certainly won’t be the last. This hot-button issue will most definitely find its way to the courts, and I’ll be keeping you updated with any new developments.