Open/Close Menu
Your Rental Housing Solution
Home · Property Management · Latest News : Landlord Pays Heavy Price for Pot-Growing Tenant

A Montana landlord is facing a jail sentence, fine and possible criminal forfeiture of his rental property after his tenant’s marijuana grow operation was raided by federal authorities.

His attorney told the news that the landlord’s only involvement was in renting out the property.

According to the report, the landlord knew that marijuana would be grown in the property but believed that this would be legal because the tenant had a licensed issued by the state.

The case highlights the perils associated with the vague relationship between state and federal laws when it comes to growing and using medicinal marijuana in states which have moved to legalize it in some fashion or another.

In a statement released back in 2009,  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that the federal government would not prosecute pot growers in states that had taken steps to legalize the practice unless they suspected that the grower had broken both state and federal laws.  Marijuana is still considered a controlled substance under federal law.

Once Montana legalized medical marijuana, the practice of growing it flourished, and appeared to many to be a bona fide industry.

Then, in 2011, a federal prosecutor in Montana announced that 26 search warrants had been executed, and a number of arrests made in grow operations around the state.

The prosecutor failed to clarify whether the businesses raided had violated both state and federal law, or whether the federal government had changed the position stated by Mr. Holder.

The landlord was charged with maintaining a drug-involved premises, according to the report. The sentencing recommendations for the crime mean that the landlord could do more time than those involved in the growing operation.

A difference of opinion on how these laws interact is still at issue.

Many landlords are not aware that under the federal statutes, the rental property itself could be subject to forfeiture.  However, prosecutors may be successful in arguing that the rental property was used in the commission of a crime or that the rent received is proceeds from a criminal activity, setting the stage for government seizure.

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

  • GARY CARLSON

    Just one more example of big government – and just one more reason to vote republican.

  • Jack Smith

    When the government forces doctors to conduct unnecessary medical procedures on women, that’s when you know you’re suffering under the tyranny of “big government”. So yeh, go ahead and take Gary Carlson’s advice and vote Republican. Say goodbye to your freedom

    As far as this article goes, what landlord who has any sense would knowingly rent to someone who states up front that they will be growing marijuana? Growing it means the possibility of running it as business. A rental unit is for residential purposes, not business. If a renter needs medical marijuana, then they can go buy it, not grow it themselves.

Copyright © 2004 - 2016 AAOA.com. All Rights Reserved.