Councilor wants marijuana banned from parks, fines increased

Credit: istockphoto
Credit: istockphoto

A Boston city councilor is aiming to ban marijuana smoking in parks and wants to increase the civil penalty for possessing small amounts of the drug. 

At Wednesday’s meeting, Councilor Bill Linehan filed a proposed ordinance “regarding the public consumption of marijuana.”

“The public consumption of marijuana is a public safety issue in the City of Boston, in particular the Boston Common and other city parks,” Linehan wrote in the filing.

Linehan, a councilor from South Boston, proposed to ban the smoking of marijuana in Boston Common or any other park or playground under the control or owned by the city.

In a phone interview, Linehan said the proposal aims to target areas where he has received complaints from constituents, and that it does not includes streets or other public areas.

“It’s similar to how we manage alcohol consumption in public areas,” he said, adding that he’s visited parks with his grandkids and could smell pot. “The idea is not to try and further criminalize the use of marijuana. It’s actually to manage public spaces. … It gives police a chance at enforcing the consumption of marijuana in public parks and spaces.”

What’s more, Linehan wants to allow police to issue a $300 citation for possessing marijuana. The current civil penalty is $100.

In 2008, state voters approved a ballot measure to decriminalize possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana. Since then, scores of other cities and towns have passed similar measures that add the $300 penalty and ban smoking the drug in public places.

The proposal was referred to a council committee that will hold a hearing or hearings on the issue before recommending changes and possible approval by the entire council.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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