As any informed stoner knows, there are plenty of grey areas when it comes to cannabis regulation. Even after California legalized recreational adult-use marijuana with Prop. 64, adult users are prohibited from smoking or consuming weed in public – barring the cannabis consumption cafes slated to open in West Hollywood this summer – adults can only get high in the comfort of their own homes.

Like with alcohol, public use of cannabis is prohibited and will be heavily regulated. But unlike alcohol, at-home use of cannabis can be subject to regulations as well.

If you’re among the nearly half of the state population that rents, cannabis use and cultivation may not be on your lease. Month-to-month renters may not be as affected as fixed-term renters, those with annual leases or rent-to-own agreements should read the fine print.

In 2012, landlords were granted the right to restrict or even completely ban smoking in rental properties, including individual units. If a lease has a non-smoking clause, and tenants violate it they can be subject to eviction. These restrictions should be clearly outlined in the lease. If a landlord is planning to evict a tenant, three-day notice is required, according to a blog post by T. Burg Law Group.

The blog also states that renters have a “right to quiet enjoyment.” This cozy but difficult to define term can be cited by renters who wish to light up in the comfort of their own home but it can also be cited by neighbors who are bothered by the smell of pot. As with many cannabis regulations, this is left open to interpretation.

Under federal law, cannabis is still illegal in any amount and landlords can choose to follow federal guidelines rather than the state’s cannabis-friendly laws. This conflict between federal and state laws is best outlined in the conflict over the Cole Memo earlier this year. The Cole Memo gave state prosecutors the freedom to decide on how heavily to prosecute marijuana-related offenses in states where cannabis has been legalized.

Earlier this year, the memo was rescinded by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, allowing state agencies to enforce federal regulations on “illegal” cannabis. The National Apartment Association (NAA) reminds landlords that “an outright ban on the use or possession of marijuana on-site does not violate any landlord/tenant or fair housing laws” even in states where medical and/or recreational cannabis is legal.

Landlords are free to prohibit cannabis use and cultivation even in the case of medical marijuana users. The NAA explains that this decision would deem the use of marijuana even under “reasonable accommodation to a disability” as “inappropriate” in any multifamily community.

At this time, the laws favor landlords who wish to prohibit cannabis use and cultivation rather than tenants who want to use cannabis in their own homes. Until federal law changes or a landmark decision in favor of medical marijuana users sets a precedent, it seems unlikely that housing laws will swing in favor of cannabis-users.


Posted by:Veronica An

Veronica enjoys good food, good company, and good music. She pens poems, short stories, op-ed articles, and non-fiction pieces. Her favorite place to write is under the California sunshine.

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