“It’s Just a Joint! I am not hurting anyone!” Or so you may think.

The Setting:

Once upon a time, in 2016 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission passed the state law for Chapter 334 of the Acts of 2016, The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act legalizing recreational marijuana under certain conditions and situations.

Everyone voted it in with a wide margin. But hardly anyone actually read the law to see what it said for what it did and didn’t allow under the statue. In the law, under SECTION 5. “The General Laws” being hereby amended by inserting after chapter 94F the following chapter: CHAPTER 94G – REGULATION OF THE USE AND DISTRIBUTION OF MARIJUANA NOT MEDICALLY PRESCRIBED; Section 2. Limitations: (d) Property.; there was some pretty interesting reading materials about the restrictions in the partaking of recreational Marijuana in public, personal and private property.

Now before I go any further in this story, I want to be clear. I am not now, nor was I ever an attorney; nor do I play one on TV. I am not authorized to practice law nor to give legal advice. I am a property manager. I rent apartments, condos, and single family homes to residents in residential living spaces. I am often caught between the goals and objectives set forth by the property owners (our clients), and the wants, needs, and desires of tenants in our rental communities (our residents).

It is always a tricky shtick to walk the fine line in balance between clients and residents because they do not always see eye to eye on highest and best use of the property. For our clients, the property is their investment. They own it. They make the rules. Whether for financial or social community reasons, the building is “their property.”

On the other hand, our residents have many rental living options and choices usually depending on proximity to their families, community, and their sources of income. For our residents, whether for financial or social community reasons, the building is “their home.”

We all feel a certain amount of liberty in this country to set up our homes as we desire, live the way we want, do what we want, when we want to, and with whom we choose to do it with. We have eminent domain over our rental spaces as residents and our home is our castle. Just inside that apartment door is our kingdom. Heck, we pay rent to live here and should be able to do what we want. Right?!

Enter the Federal, state, local government and municipalities. There are volumes of laws, rules, and regulations directing the proper conduct for just about everything you can imagine. The rental business industry is no different. In fact, there are so many laws, rules, and regulations it can make your head spin trying to interpret them all to know exactly what to do in any given situation.

Just from city to city at a local level there are conflicting areas of the laws, rules and regulations from one department to another, and every one of them is right. Try to get the building department, board of health and the fire commissioner to give you an answer to the same question and your likely to get three different answers. We will save that gem of a story for another time. Let’s get back to cannabis conundrum.

So here we are. Recreational Marijuana is now legal. The state of Massachusetts says it okay (under certain circumstances) to have and hold on your possession some weed for your own personal uses. It is now okay to smoke a “J”. However, as we have eluded to in the previous paragraphs, there are still active Federal laws on the books classifying Marijuana as a Class A hallucinogenic, therefore making it illegal.

Bam! There you have it. The fly in the ointment. Apparently there are still laws concerning the personal use of marijuana that are in conflict between state and Federal laws. Who would imagine such a thing? Are you shocked to read this? Probably not so much. But here in good ole’ Massachusetts it is now okay to smoke a “J”.

The Residents:

We have the privilege of having some of the best residents in our rental communities because of our stringent background screening procedures. We get the best properties, in the best neighborhoods, then we seek out the best residents to live in those rental communities.

Notably one of the best rental populations we service is the Haitian Community. We have found them to take great pride in their rental apartments. They are a tight-knit, social, hard-working people who care for one another, keep very clean apartments and raise their families with good old fashion family values that have all but vanished from some of our American culture. We rent to several Haitian families and for the most part they all seem to know each other’s families, where they came from, and respect the lease, the property, and the other residents. They also raise their children to show respect for their elders and respect their parents. Just good people.

One of our Haitian residents, whom for this story we shall call Monique, is a bubbly-hearted, spirited, loving mother of two daughters. She moved to the United States two years ago and through a referral from one of our other Haitian residents moved into one of our rental properties and became one of our residents. Monique also has ended up referring several other friends and family members to our manager whom have also become Belaire Residents.

Monique moved here from Haiti with the hopes and dreams of prosperity to embrace the opportunities and freedoms we all enjoy in this county. Monique worked two jobs as a nurses’ aid in local senior centers caring for the elderly. She loved living here and loved her rental apartment where she made her home for the past two tears. Monique was able to provide for her family here in the United States and also make enough income that she was able to send money back to Haiti to care for her family there.

Life was good and a promising future looked bright and prosperous for Monique.

The Chain of Events:

One of Monique’s teenage daughters met a boy at school and they became friends. This boy was not a good influence on the girl and through his example she was becoming defiant to her mother over time. She had tasted the freedoms we experience in this country which was so much more liberating and less strict than the culture she was brought up in in Haiti. She also observed how this boy spoke disrespectfully to his own mother and treated her abusive language. And, he got away with it! Yet the boy’s mother tolerated such behavior to the point where she let her own son smoke Marijuana in their home. Through the eyes of this young girl, seeing all of this for the first time ,she began to accept this behavior as how things were done in the United States.

One night, about four months ago from the writing of this story, everything in Monique’s life was about to change. Over several months this boy had introduced Monique’s daughter to drugs and she had started smoking Marijuana when she would visit his home. The daughter went out one evening to visit with this boy. They partied until early in the morning smoking pot until finally, the daughter came home at about 3:00 AM. Monique had long since earlier that night locked the doors to her apartment and had gone to bed.

When the daughter returned home at 3:00 AM finding the doors locked and not having a key to get in, she proceeded to climb through the kitchen window over the sink. Monique confronted her daughter in the kitchen, frantic and frustrated, not about to tolerate such behavior from her minor daughter who just climbed through the window wreaking of Marijuana smoke.

Let’s stop here for just a moment. Decades ago when I was growing up in America it was a different time and moral culture. If I had pulled a stunt like this with my parents, there would be hell to pay and absolute, swift disciplinary action that would have left me choosing to remain standing for several days. Being defiant after being caught red-handed would have only escalated the situation to become much worse resulting in a higher level of even more severe disciplinary action, or the “Wrath of Dad”. It just was not done nor would you even think of doing this. You obeyed your parents, you did not talk back, and you showed them respect at all times, in all situations, or else.

On that evening at 3:00 AM in the morning, in Monique’s kitchen, confronting her stoned minor age daughter “or else” was about to happen, but not without consequences. When Monique’s daughter crawled through that kitchen window at 3:00 AM she was met by a very irate and furious Haitian single mother who could not comprehend the behavior she was witnessing from her child. Words were exchanged, and Monique disciplined her child similar to the way I would have been disciplined decades ago.

The child then called the police on her own mother for laying a hand on her. Apparently, children can now act out of control and be abusive to their parents, and when disciplined by their parents, press charges on them for abuse. What a mess! Once the charges were pressed against Monique the police contacted DCF (Department of Children and Families) https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-department-of-children-families to put the daughter into protective custody away from her own mother. The daughter was put into the custody of the state and immediately placed into a foster home. The daughter is not a US citizen.

Remember early in our story what Monique did for a job? She was a nurse’s aide. Occupations like bus drivers, nurses, school teachers, and health care workers (just to name a few) who work with or around children or the elderly all need to pass clean CORI checks to be employed https://www.mass.gov/criminal-record-check-services. In any one of these occupations you need a clean CORI or your tenure is subject to termination. Well, that is exactly what happened to Monique when the public records were updated for her CORI at her place of employment. Monique was let go from both of her jobs and could no longer pay for her apartment or any of her other bills for that matter. She had to immediately seek gainful employment working several other odd jobs not making even half as much as she was making as a nurse’s aide.

So let’s review our story just a bit here before we continue.

  • Daughter meets boy
  • Boy gets daughter stoned on pot
  • Daughter gets disciplined by Mother
  • Daughter calls the Police
  • Mother gets arrested by Police
  • Police call DCF on Mother
  • DCF places Daughter into foster home
  • Mother gets flagged for a poor public CORI record
  • Mother losses 2 jobs because of failed CORI check
  • Mother can no longer pay bills or rent
  • Years of education and training go down the tubes
  • Mother now has to take several odd jobs just to survive

I know. All of this seems so terrible and tragic. But it is all true.

The Unintended Consequences:

So here we are. A very proud Haitian family destroyed by the actions associated with the passing of The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.

We have come so far in our culture that all of this is real and could really happen again, and again. In the infamous words of sales evangelists getting us to buy their gadgets on a pre-paid late night infomercial – “But WAIT, There’s MORE”.

Remember the beginning of our tale? The proud Haitian community coming to America. The land of promise and prosperity where one can make enough money to earn a living to care for their family, and, make enough extra money by working hard to send it back to Haiti. One-by-one being able to provide a path of prosperity for their loved ones to follow to come to this great land of opportunity. Until it’s not.

The plethora of rules, regulations, and laws to be a property manager are unending at times and not without their unique twists and turns trying to navigate a course to a safe port. As things had not turned out badly enough for Monique and her family for the consequences of smoking a joint, things were about to take a turn for the worse.

There will be no happy ending for this sad tale.

All things considered from the chain of events from this story were bad enough to endure. But just like that game of “Mouse Trap” we all enjoyed as kids, one event triggered another event, which triggered another, and another, and so on until finally the cage dropped down at the final stage capturing the mouse – game over!

The final cage was about to drop on Monique and her family.

Monique came to this country after much hard work, study and training to work in a specialized field, on a work visa green card. I can hear you all gasp in horror as you are connecting the dots to what you just read and to where this story is going. Because of the chain of events that have now led up to Monique having a criminal record, she can no longer work in her specialized field of training and her work visa green card is not being renewed. That’s right. Within days from now, Monique, and her daughter, who are not a US citizens, are soon to be deported back to Haiti and their visa privileges are being revoked from staying in this country.

This is the end for Monique’s dreams of prosperity. Not only have all of these terrible things happened to this family, but now they cannot stay in this country and have to go back to where there is no hope or opportunity for them to rise out of the poverty of their homeland. It is unclear what their situation will be when they return. I am not sure what the impact of her police record here in the US will have in Haiti or how it will affect her. But I do not think they will be able to apply for a visa in the future to return to this country because Monique now has a police arrest record here. The final outcome is emanant, and only days away.

We try to do the best we can. We love our families, we try to protect them, we try to raise our children to have solid work ethics and strong moral and family values. Then we have to let go. There are no guarantees that life will turn out okay. We can only hope for the best. It is heartbreaking to know the outcome at times and we wish only if we could have known better, then just maybe things would have been different. But we can’t, we don’t, and they won’t.

So that innocent instance where someone influences another person to do what they probably already know is wrong, just remember – everything can change overnight. There is no right answer here or moral to the story. The true test of character is doing the right thing even when no one else is watching.

I will never forget the morning Monique was in our office unconsolably sobbing in tears at the realization she had to go back to Haiti and her hopes and dreams had vanished before her after so much hard work and promise. But there was nothing I could do, and now, nothing she can do. It is hard to point the finger to lay blame on this one or that one. We live in a culture now where we all want the right to do what we want to do, no matter how much it imposes on the rights of others, or who gets hurt in the wake of disaster.

“It’s my right and I can do this whenever I want to, after all, now it’s legal. It’s just a joint and I’m not hurting anyone.”

Do you have any other ideas on this topic you could share to help our online community? Please chime in to share a comment or review. All feedback is welcomed!

Warmest regards,

Brian Lucier
Belaire Property Management
Regional Property Manager
(978) 448-0669 office
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