California Landlords Could Soon Ban Marijuana Use Inside Rentals

By McCarton Ackerman 05/24/16

Assemblyman Jim Wood's proposed bill aims to hold pot smoke to the same residential regulations as secondhand tobacco smoke.

California Landlords Could Soon Ban Marijuana Use Inside Rentals

Recreational marijuana may be legal in California as soon as this November, and landlords are bracing themselves for the possibility. Under a new proposed bill in the state house, landlords would be able to prohibit tenants from smoking marijuana in their rental properties. 

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Jim Wood and is sponsored by the California Apartment Association (CAA). According to the Sacramento Bee, the bill is an extension of an already existing 2011 law that allows landlords to ban the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Wood wants to extend the law to medical marijuana and, if voters pass a ballot measure in November to legalize it, the rule would extend to recreational marijuana as well.

The assemblyman said secondhand smoke, even marijuana smoke, could pose a potential health issue for tenants living in close quarters, pointing to preliminary research from the University of California, San Francisco that suggests pot smoke is just as damaging to the blood vessels and heart as cigarette smoke. “It’s a nuisance that tenants should not have to live with,” said Wood. The CAA also noted that it is important for landlords to regulate smoking since the issue can cause tension among tenants.

However, medical marijuana advocates expressed concern that Wood’s proposal would infringe on the patients' rights under Proposition 215, California’s medical marijuana law. Wood clarified that residents would still be able to obtain and use medical marijuana in their homes in “non-smoking ways,” such as oils, tinctures and edibles.

Other states have also looked to adopt similar measures. In March 2015, the Michigan Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow landlords to ban medical marijuana on their properties. 

State Sen. Rick Jones, who sponsored the Michigan bill, testified that he'd had "two homes totally destroyed in my district that were turned into grow operations." And David Soule of the Property Management Association of Michigan said that some of the methods used to grow cannabis indoors had resulted in building fires.

But others expressed concern over the legal ramifications for medical marijuana patients. In addition to potentially being evicted, they could also be prosecuted.

"This will create more felonies," said Thomas Lavigne, an attorney for the Cannabis Counsel in Detroit. "The medical marijuana act was intended to provide immunity to patients so they are not penalized or denied any privilege, and I think housing is a privilege."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.