Summer is the perfect time for many associations to speak with their association attorney about updating their rules and regulations. I have been busy for the past few weeks reviewing and updating rules and regulations for all types of communities. Naturally, one of the rules which I have been discussing at length was whether or not secondhand smoke had become a problem and should be addressed.
More and more community associations are addressing the issue of cigarette and cigar smoke and even vapors released by e-cigarettes. However, very few address the issue of marijuana smoke.
Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act into law which allows for the limited use of medical marijuana for persons suffering from epilepsy, cancer and ALS. In addition to this law, Florida voters will be asked to decide in November if an even more expansive use of medical marijuana should be allowed by amending the Florida Constitution to permit such usage. Early polls indicate widespread support for this referendum.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia now have some form of law that permits the use of marijuana for varying medical purposes.
Of course, this new right is accompanied by a countervailing concern about how the use of and growing of marijuana might impact neighbors living in shared ownership communities. The starting point for associations in other states which have preceded Florida on this path has been the passage of rules limiting the smoking of medical marijuana in common areas as well as on balconies, patios, front and back yards.
Regardless if you see this as a personal-freedom issue or just another potential usage that should be regulated by your association, the fact remains that new laws, new technology and new products coming on to the market bring with them the need for boards and residents to evaluate how they wish to see their communities operated.
Another example of a rule which was requested by an association board for the first time recently pertains to wearable technology. In this community, a few residents using Google Glass presented questions about security risks as well as data and personal privacy concerns. Wearable technology encompasses not just Google Glass but other wearable devices such as health monitors, watches, GPS devices, cameras, etc. The basic concern with wearable technology is that there will be no telltale signs that the tech users are taking pictures or video or tape recording conversations. In fact, the very appeal of wearable technology is that it can be used with little or no effort.
Whether we are talking about smoking marijuana or wearing Google Glass, any usage which falls within the definition of a nuisance can be regulated as such. Otherwise, your association may wish to get a little more specific about these and some other new member behaviors which have popped up on your radar.