Pot, weed, Mary-Jane, wacky-tobacky, no matter what you call it, recreational Marijuana is now legal in California. For some people, these aforementioned names are cringe worthy and bring up thoughts of commercials on MTV with a man dropping an egg on a frying pan and saying, “This is your brain on drugs.” For others, these names bring up memories of a care-free time in college when they lived dazed and confused. No matter what your stance or view point on Marijuana, if you own investment rental property in California, you’re going to have to get familiar and become educated with this new law. It’s high time we cut through the haze and get some clarity about what this means for you. (I promise, I’ll try to keep the puns to a minimum).
Know Your State’s Law
First off, Marijuana is now recreationally legal in 8 states, and legal for medicinal purposes in 20 additional states (see a legal marijuana map here). Although it’s legal on the state level, on the federal level, it’s illegal and considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. The DOJ has issued statements that although they reserve the right to prosecute illegal activity regarding the drug, it’s commonly accepted that they will not use resources to prosecute actions that have been deemed legal on the state level. So, for all intents and purposes, the state law will be what the general population will adhere to.
Like all smoking, marijuana smoke can be damaging to rental property as well as become a nuisance to other residents on your property. If you don’t want your tenants smoking pot on your property, you’re in luck. California has some of the strictest non-smoking laws in the country and these laws generally transfer right over to recreational marijuana use. You want to make sure that your no smoking addendum is written in a way that expressly prohibits marijuana smoke or at least says that all smoking products are prohibited on the property.
Having a no smoking addendum on your lease will prevent marijuana use through smoking, but it won’t prevent tenants consuming marijuana in other ways. For instance, edible marijuana consumption is becoming popular amongst marijuana users. There’s no smoke involved and therefore your no-smoking policy doesn’t apply to that.
What Property Owners Can Do
According a recent Q&A document on marijuana use released by the California Apartment Association (CAA) a property owner can prohibit the use and cultivation of marijuana on their property. According to the CAA, the initiative expressly allows owners of private rental property to prohibit any of the actions related to recreational marijuana that are otherwise permitted by the initiative.
Everything gets a bit grey when you get into medical marijuana and for specific situations you would need to contact professional legal counsel. As a matter of fact, for any legal issues regarding the use of marijuana you should not specifically rely on me or this blog, but on legal counsel.
At the end of the day having expressly written out addendums in your lease regarding the cultivation and smoking of marijuana is going to be very important. Also, getting specific legal advice from a local attorney is important because there are certain city and county ordinances that will differ throughout the state. Going through a professional rental property management company will also help mitigate legal risks for your property.
If you live in my neck of the woods in Northern California you can contact us at Hignell Property Management to help with your property management needs.