Posted in Blog  
  on May 26, 2014

Explanation of Marijuana Smokers Rights for Tenants

With Colorado and Washington passing recreational pot laws in the last election cycle, the use of marijuana by renters has once again been forced into the spotlight for landlords. It's not just recreational use that is up for debate, however, as more states than ever before are allowing medicinal uses of marijuana for specific medical issues. Do these marijuana smokers have specific rights as tenants that must be followed by landlords?

In Most Cases, the Answer Is Actually No


Marijuana use, even for medical purposes, will typically fall into a good no smoking policy that is part of any leasing agreement. The specificity of the no smoking policy will either protect you fully or not protect you at all, especially when it comes to legal use. Including vaporizers and other odor-causing non-smoking forms of marijuana under a smoke-free policy and incorporating tobacco use into them will often give you the greatest legal protection.

As for edibles and other marijuana products, the problem that landlords in Colorado and Washington may face is the fact that the drug has been legalized. Many rental agreements include language that causes illegal drug use to be something that can lead to an eviction, but in these two specific states marijuana has been removed from the equation. It is now similar to alcohol and so if it is been used legally in a non-smoking way, there is really nothing a landlord can do in these two states to prevent its use.



Is There An Exception To This Rule?


The one exception to the rule of marijuana smoking and a tenant's rights involves whether or not they are using the pot to help with a specific disability. If they are, then federal law requires a landlord to accommodate this need as long as it doesn't cause an unreasonable burden on their business. The request for an accommodation would need to be made in writing by the tenant and is usually part of the initial application process.

If there is a disability that develops over the course of a rental agreement that would require smoking marijuana, the request for an accommodation can be made at that time and a landlord must follow it, again with the stipulation that it doesn't cause an undue burden. If there is no disability, you can insist on the no smoking policy for marijuana to be observed and issue complaint letters if the behavior continues. If there is a disability, you may want to back off and try to find a mutually beneficial decision.

The ability to let one renter smoke and no one else is a great way to let everyone in a rental complex legally break their leases and leave a landlord flat broke. By knowing what is and is not allowed in the area of marijuana smoking, you can create good policies and excellent language in your rental agreements that will let everyone find a way to co-exist peacefully while minimizing damage to the unit being rented.

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