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Can I Be Evicted for Medical Marijuana?

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An area of medical marijuana policy that I often run into is housing. Sadly, I have never been a homeowner (or home payer as my math professor used to say). In fact, I moved an average of 1 time a year since I was a teenager. As a young adult, I would often set up a garden in a garage, basement, closet, shed, or spare bedroom of my rental property. Since I wasn’t a medical marijuana patient at the time, I didn’t think about state and federal housing policies and laws, especially as they related to marijuana. I considered myself a ninja, I knew the risks I was taking, and I proceeded to operate under the radar.

That all changed when I became a medical marijuana patient a handful of years ago. For the first time in my life, I had the ability to cultivate marijuana legally, so long as I was within my limits and no federal agents came to my house (which is not common in Oregon). At the time, I had the same question that I’m sure most MMJ patients have if they are renters; can my landlord kick me out, and/or call the cops on me for having medical marijuana growing and being consumed in my home? I always hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately, yes they can. There are steps you can take to prevent this from happening, but I must warn all medical marijuana patients out there, you should proceed with caution.

How in the hell can that be, you ask? It’s because almost any rental agreement contains a line that essentially states ‘the tenant agrees to follow all state AND federal laws’ while occupying the unit. Again, not EVERY rental agreement states this. However, every rental agreement that I have ever read DOES include that line, and from what I have researched, it seems to be an industry standard just about everywhere.

So if the landlord finds out that you are actively cultivating and/or consuming your medicine in the dwelling unit, it leaves you open to their wrath if they seek to pursue it. All they have to do is claim the ‘I’m just trying to follow federal law’ defense in court, and you are screwed. They can come after you for damages, which may or may not be stuff that you actually did! You have to imagine if you are standing in a courtroom trying to explain yourself in that situation, most judges are going to be unsympathetic and side with the landlord. It’s f’d I know, but that’s how the system works unfortunately.

One precautionary step that is recommended by Sensible Colorado is to amend the rental agreement or lease to omit the word ‘federal’ from the line I previously mentioned. If the line read more like ‘the tenant agrees to follow all (fill in the blank) state laws while occupying the unit’ it would protect the tenant to the fullest extent of state law. However, proposing such an amendment to the rental agreement or lease might raise some eyebrows, and result in you being turned down for the place. It doesn’t hurt to try though!

One thing that is almost guaranteed is if your landlord tries to call law enforcement on you, they will be requesting a city/county/state level patrol officer, and not a federal level officer. The state and local police are SUPPOSED TO BE FOLLOWING STATE LAW, which is the same law that allows you to be a medical marijuana patient in the first place. In theory, you should have no problems beyond cops walking around your spot to make sure you are within the limits. However, as I’m sure everyone is aware of by now, some cops are total assholes, and due to prosecutorial discretion, they can do whatever they want. Only after lawyer fees, blood, sweat, and tears are you returned to your original place if such an event were to happen. Moral of the story — BE A NINJA AND DON’T LET YOUR LANDLORD FIND OUT, MMJ CARD OR OTHERWISE! Of course, if you are a homeowner, or your landlord is OK with MMJ, you are lucky enough to not have to ever deal with any of this ridiculousness!

P.S. — Look for my follow up article ‘How to Survive a Landlord Walkthrough When You Grow Marijuana’

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18 Comments

  1. me and my five minor children are on the streets as of 9/1/16.i was found with two plants in a closet,after jumping through every state hoop there is to get oked medically and attain a massachusetts registration card.

  2. Excellent Post!
    You added many types of information that you share.I like it very much.You make an excellent post on your blog.That was an excellent post.

    Thanks for sharing this article….

  3. Maybe an air purifier (with fragrance oils)? Have you tried talking to you neighbor? Take over some Krispy Kreme donuts or a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies, tell your neighbor you’re really sorry if the smell offends him, tell him you’re working on the problem and that you’ll check back in a couple of days. If you feel comfortable, explain that your boyfriend has a medical card, that the medical cannabis helps when nothing else does, and ask for some patience and understanding. If you don’t want to talk to him face-to-face, try a nice note with a small, neighborly gift (bottle of Scotch?).

  4. KPmmjAdvoc2014 on

    We have a neighbor that complains all the time, even when we aren’t home about smelling marijuana from our apartment. Everyone in our building smokes. My boyfriend has his medical card so he’s doing nothing wrong by state standards. Management is trying to force us to move to accomodate this one man. There are 3 of us in my apartment. And more than likely the next tenants in this room will be smokers and he will just complain again. What do we do? We can’t afford to move. It’s off season in a ski town.

  5. Also they are claiming they can keep the money that we have ALREADY PAID our whole lease with. We have lived here for 4 months now and keep this place in tip top shape and abide by all laws and rules. The landlord had stated that he can keep and do whatever he wishes with the money we paid ahead with, which would be around $4,000.00. All together we paid $6,400.00 and that is with the security deposit. There is only myself and fiance who live here and we are not even caregivers, we are patients who just cultivate our own medicine. No damage at all has been done to the house. We are constantly being harassed and it’s stressful and becoming to much to handle. We would just like our money for the months that are paid ahead so we may find another location that is peaceful and non bothersome. Are we entitled to our paid ahead money?

  6. Okay our lease agreement states this exactly ” Tenant at all times shall fully and promptly comply with all laws, ordinances, orders and regulations of any lawful authority having jurisdiction over the premises, including but not limited to, such as relate to cleanliness, safety, occupation, and the use of the premises.” Sooooo would we be protected against our landlord trying to evict us? Our lease is paid in full for the six month agreement. We are very clean and tidy and they are still trying to make us move out. Our landlord is also a lawyer (greedy one at that), so if you could give us ANY information about this situation that would be GREAT :-)

  7. It sounds, Jenny, as if the tenants who abused your property were real jerks. a properly set up grow room will NOT cause property damage. A years worth of garbage.. that tells me these people were either not actually living there at all, or they were real dirty slobs.. but we can’t forget about all the ‘clean’ growers out there. Our medical garden, is a single bedroom in our single family rental, there has been and will be no property damage, and I’m proud to say our place is spotless! Just saying,

  8. As a landlord who just got screwed over by a grow scene in my home. Think about the damage you are doing to the owner’s home. My tenants left several large holes in both bedrooms. Left my home completely filthy and a 1 1/2 years worth of garbage.

  9. Wow this is amazingly informative. It just scares me that my landlord may be kicking us out for no reason according to the eviction notice and then says it was for marijuana a day before my boyfriends appointment. My boyfriend is now a medical marijuana patient but she says she will be checking in with the owner, who is a lawyer, would a law suit be won if I did decide to sue?

  10. Wow! this article seems to clarify a lot of things. The issue of legalizing marijuana is still a big deal in a lot of states. Although some of it allowed it already, still, the federal law strictly prohibits it…

  11. Yes, this is a bad situation. That is why we need to keep fighting until the federal laws are changed. Good luck to everyone who might be in this situation.

  12. Nice to see a well informed examination of the subject because there’s a lot of uninformed BS out there about what rights 215 gives a patient.

  13. darlene drymon on

    this is very informative-i did not know that one word could make such a difference

  14. wow, what a great article! this is the kind of stuff everyone wonders about, thanks for passing the knowledge :)

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