The use of medical marijuana has been the topic of many discussions, especially since the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado. In California, only medical marijuana is legal. But what do you do when you find out a tenant has been smoking pot in your rental? Californians have been able to obtain and use medical marijuana with doctors’ recommendations since 1996 and since then they have been immune from criminal prosecution. In 2003, a bill passed by the Legislature made way for state-issued, voluntary medical marijuana cards that gave patients additional protection when dealing with law enforcement. However, neither measure addressed patients’ rights and housing. This allowed many landlords to evict such tenants.Many property managers and landlords don’t want medical marijuana on their premises, fearing exposure to children, smoke damage to property and offending other tenants.

That’s just the smoke side of the issue. Others have cited water damage and mold issues stemming from undisclosed sprinkler systems used to water pot plants and electrical damage to panels and wiring from illegal splicing into the electrical system to draw electricity for lighting. Yet there are those who are okay with the use of marijuana in their properties.

Eric Wiegers, spokesman for the statewide apartment association, said he’s heard of both extremes:
landlords who are OK with medical marijuana as long as it doesn’t affect others, and landlords who are opposed to the drug, regardless of use and medical condition.

People on both sides of the debate say there’s a fair way to get around medical marijuana and housing, and it starts with full disclosure. Tenants, who wish to medicate at home, should make certain it is okay with the landlord/ property managers. It is inevitable that they will find out. Professional property managers address the issue of medical marijuana with no-smoking clauses in their leases. They’re also including a clause stating adherence to federal law, which deems marijuana, no matter the use, to be illegal.

The advice for renters is to be honest. It is best to be upfront ad to let the property managers/ landlords know rather than face eviction. Second piece of advice is to read the lease clauses regarding smoking and drug use.

The advice for property owners is to establish a policy and be specific when setting the criteria in rental agreements. AND when in doubt, always consult an attorney. An ounce of prevention in this case could save thousands of dollars later. Or better yet, contact us at New Bridge Management at 209-668-6700 and we will be happy to manage your property.