Lowell Council adopts fines for pot smoking in public places
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LOWELL — Smoking marijuana while walking through a park or standing on a sidewalk can now result in a ticket up to $300.
The City Council voted 9-0 Tuesday evening to approve the ordinance prohibiting marijuana consumption in public.
Smoking marijuana in public is illegal in Massachusetts, but city officials wanted to give police some teeth with added local regulations.
Under this ordinance, those who consume marijuana in public will be fined $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense, $300 for the third offense and for subsequent offenses.
City Councilor David Conway had made a motion last month for the city to review the feasibility of drafting an ordinance prohibiting marijuana use in public.
“It’s something we have to be aware of,” Conway said Tuesday before voting for it.
“It will be good for the city and good for the citizens,” he added.
Under state law, marijuana use in public is not legal. This ordinance could lead to stricter penalties to deter use, councilors say.
City Solicitor Christine O’Connor has said this ordinance is intended to mirror prohibitions regarding drinking alcohol in public.
“Prohibiting the consumption of marijuana in public will promote good order and decorum in the streets and public spaces of the City of Lowell,” the proposed ordinance reads.
“Prohibiting the consumption of marijuana in public will promote the health, safety, and welfare of the residents and neighborhoods of the City of Lowell,” the ordinance continues.
Under the proposed ordinance, a “public place” includes streets, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds, plazas, bridges and more.
There was a section that would have banned smoking marijuana in one’s front yard, back yard and driveway, but the City Council removed that language.
City Councilor Rita Mercier had argued that someone