How Will Marijuana Legalization Affect Landlords?

smokerImages of long lines of pot buyers snaking outside recreational marijuana shops in Colorado have dominated the news since January 2nd.

Washington state is next at bat, legalizing the consumption and sale of marijuana, with activists in Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont working hard to put their states next on the list.

As marijuana legalization sweeps across the the country, landlords must consider how it will affect their rental properties and leasing practices.

What will you do if pot becomes legal in your state? Can you prohibit marijuana consumption on your rental property?

And if so, what is the most effective way of doing so?

Colorado landlords are already faced with these questions, and the inevitable dilemma of melding pot-smoking tenants with others who see it as a nuisance in both multifamily buildings and single-family neighborhoods.

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, so assuming your lease has a provision prohibiting any illegal activity on your property, this could be one route to consider if you wish to nip marijuana consumption in the bud, even in states that have legalized the substance.

But, as more states hop on the legalization bandwagon, the federal government’s response has been hazy at best, and it is may condone pot use in some states.

But don’t fret. It turns out that if you choose to prohibit marijuana consumption in your rentals, your lease is still probably your best weapon.

Theoretically, landlords can prohibit all consumption of marijuana on their property. The challenge though, will be enforcing it when it comes to edibles. But while some people will consume marijuana that way, most people will want to smoke it.

And as a landlord, you can prohibit smoking in your unit. That likely can include smoking marijuana. If you don’t have a smoking ban in place, now is a good time to phase it in.

Regardless of how landlords decide to tackle the issue of marijuana consumption (or not) in their rental properties, it appears this issue is here to stay.

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