Health, News

Peabody wants to ban pot smoking in hotels and private clubs

PEABODY — There will be no sparking up joints in private clubs or hotel rooms if the Board of Health gets its way next week.

The board is holding a public hearing Thursday, Feb. 22 on a proposed amendment to the city’s environmental smoke regulations. The amendment would clarify that the exemption allowing smoking in hotels/motels and in private clubs under certain conditions applies to tobacco products but not to marijuana or products containing cannabis.

“This really came up in the context of our regional group of North Shore health departments,” said Sharon Cameron, the city’s health director. “Many of us have similar looking ordinances when it comes to environmental smoke. It seemed like it was time to put the issue on the radar screen.”

Cameron brought the issue before the city’s health board. The board members felt it was appropriate to clarify that the exemption allowing tobacco smoke in some hotels and private clubs should not apply to marijuana.

Under current regulations, hotel and motel rooms can be designated as smoking rooms provided that at least 75 percent of the rooms are smoke free at all times.

Smoking can also be allowed in the bar areas of private clubs that had active locations in the city at the time the regulations were enacted. In those cases, smoking is allowed if the smoking area is completely separated from the non-smoking area, it has a key entry system that prohibits entry by the general public, and employees must be members of the club.

“We have reached out to the directly affected clubs and hotels,” said Cameron.

The new regulations will take effect 30 days after adoption by the board of health.

City officials have yet to make a final decision on banning the sale of recreational marijuana. Last year, the city council barely missed hitting the two-thirds majority needed to ban recreational marijuana dispensaries within city limits. In 2016, 54 percent of city residents voted against the ballot measure for legalized recreational marijuana.

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