Mich. AG: Building owners can ban pot-smoking

Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 19, 2011, 11:57am


LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - The owner of a hotel, motel or apartment building can prohibit the smoking of marijuana and the growing of marijuana plants anywhere within the facility, according to an opinion by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Schuette also wrote Thursday that imposing such a prohibition does not violate the state's Medical Marijuana Act, approved by voters in 2008.

The opinion was prompted by constituents of Republican state Sen. Rick Jones. Jones then asked the attorney general for his input.

In his opinion, Schuette said property owners may want to prohibit smoking marijuana or growing marijuana plants within their privately-owned facilities for a number of reasons.

First, all marijuana-related activity remains illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.

"The federal government remains free to enforce the criminal provisions of the Controlled Substances Act against Michigan citizens, regardless of whether they are registered patients or caregivers under the MMMA," he wrote.

"Property owners who allow their properties to be used by patients or caregivers for the purposes of using or growing marijuana could be subject to prosecution, civil forfeiture or other penalty under the Controlled Substances Act."

In addition, Schuette said, the smoking of marijuana or the possession of marijuana plants within a property may make other tenants or guests concerned for their own or their family's personal safety.

The attorney general said property owners also may want to respect the preferences of other guests or tenants within a facility.

"Marijuana smoke, like tobacco smoke, has a strong and distinctive odor, which may offend other persons using the facility or discourage future occupancy of the facility," he wrote.

Schuette said his conclusion is consistent with the treatment of employers under the MMMA.

"The MMMA expressly states that employers do not have to accommodate the use of medical marijuana in a workplace, and do not have to allow an employee to work under the influence of marijuana," he noted.

Jones, who represents Grand Ledge, said Saturday that Schuette's opinion reinforces the public's desire to keep smoke out of public places.

"The attorney general's opinion that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act does prohibit the drug's use in places of public accommodation empowers owners and operators of Michigan's hotels, motels, food service operations and their patrons," he said in a statement.

"This decision makes it clear that marijuana is not to be used in a public setting and that is good for business and for public safety."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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