Cultivation and Consumption of Cannabis: What You Need To Know

marijuanaWalking down the street in San Francisco, it might surprise people that marijuana is not legal.  The free-spirit attitude of the 1960’s Haight-Ashbury days has persevered, and indeed, most law enforcement officials turn a blind-eye.

However, as a multi-family building landlord, you still need to know your and your tenants’ rights with regards to cannabis consumption on the property.

While SB 420, an amendment to existing medical marijuana state laws, clarified many patient rights, it is largely silent on the rights of medical marijuana patients as tenants.

Most frequently, when I approach a tenant about their marijuana use, the most common defense I hear is that the tenant has a medical marijuana card and therefore has a right to use cannabis.  However, that is not the whole truth.

While medical marijuana consumption is legal under state law and a low priority for local law enforcement officers, it is still illegal under federal law.

Since it is illegal under federal law, the simplest way to avoid ongoing problems related to marijuana consumption on your property is make sure all your leases contain a non-smoking clause and an unlawful activity addendum, which prohibits the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution, use or possession with the intent to manufacture, sell, distribute, or use of a controlled substance.  Even though medical marijuana is allowed per state law, it is still considered illegal per federal law, so the consumption or cultivation of marijuana will be direct violation of the unlawful activity addendum, and therefore is grounds for eviction.

Some medical marijuana advocacy groups suggest that tenants try to revise the unlawful activity provision to only require compliance with state law.  Do not agree to this as it will seriously weaken any rights you have as a landlord.  This provision should protect you against consumption and cultivation of cannabis.

Some more liberal landlords may not care if cannabis is consumed or even cultivated on their property.  However, you still have a right to protect other building residents from being offended by the smell of marijuana plants or smoke and protecting children from exposure to cannabis.  This is where a good nuisance clause in your lease is paramount.  It should state that tenants shall not interfere with the comfort, safety or enjoyment of the Owner or other occupants in the building, or their guests.

If you receive any complaints regarding the smoke, smell or exposure to cannabis, please have the tenant put in writing the exact days, times and circumstances surrounding each incident.  This evidence will be imperative should you have an eviction lawsuit against the offending tenant.

If you have more specific questions about marijuana on your property, please consult an attorney.

Speak Your Mind