Members’ Commentary: Accommodating Tenants That Use Marijuana

Recreational marijuana will be legal Dec 15. Will MassLandlords members accommodate tenants that use cannabis once this law is in effect?

There are many factors that come into play when pondering the future of property management now that recreational marijuana has been legalized. Landlords must think about the damage smoke could cause to their properties and the effect it might have on other tenants who reside in the same building. Property managers are also compelled to consider the potential hazards caused by a tenant constructing a cannabis growing area.

Picture sourced from BuzzFeed's video "Watch These Three Grandmas Smoke Weed for the First Time"

Along with preventing damage to their properties or harm to their other tenants, landlords and property managers must also take into account the multitude of forms marijuana now comes in. Although smoking is the most common way users intake cannabis, it is not the only way. Both medicinal marijuana patients and recreational users can obtain weed in many forms that would not cause harm to their landlord’s property or to any other tenants. These forms include: marijuana edibles (brownies, sodas, gum, etc.), THC and CBD tincture, hash oil, and cannabis creams and ointments.
We posed several marijuana related questions to our members: “Will you stick to non-smoking?”, “Do you intend to be marijuana friendly if you already have non-smoking rules?”, “Do you think you'll feel more open minded towards those who use cannabis to treat illnesses, such as: cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, etc.?”, “Do you intend to invoke federal protection to prohibit edibles?”, and “What has led you to your choice?”.

Some of our members were kind enough to take the time to answer our questions. We got a spectrum of answers as you can see below:

Sandra Katz:
“I have an absolute prohibition in all of my tenancy agreements that smoking is not allowed. There are other forms of taking marijuana other than just smoking. There are other illnesses that are affected by any kind of smoking and I don't want a battle between "illnesses". Also, the smell lingers and gets into the walls, and there is also the potential for growing the plants in your properties. Even though the law has "safeguards" in place, too difficult to police. So, for me the no smoking rule is my guiding force.”

Jim Gasek:
“I know that I personally will not be catering to any additional pot use (unless I am required by law to do so).  I will be enforcing this, as always, by written contracts and written/verbal reminders to tenants. Growing does not appear to be in dispute, I can forbid it. Smoking does not appear to be in dispute, I can still forbid all smoking. Additional research on the details of the legal aspects are needed. In the landlord-tenant interaction, the law only matters if it goes to court, and I have found that most people are not willing to go to court with me.  If they do, they misunderstand what the end result will be.”

Edie Fruscione:
“As a landlord and card carrying cannabis user I'm delighted to see that this discussion is taking place. I happen to use an edible for sleeping which allowed me to kick a pharmaceutical drug that I had been taking for 12 years. I use a MJ infused lotion to dull neuropathic pain in my legs. When establishing rules on your properties you need to consider what is being used and whether or not it is medical or recreational. I think it is reasonable if you have a non-smoking policy to extend it to marijuana smoke/smell. Other options are available for users.”

Sheryl Chase:
“I do feel more open minded for persons using marijuana medicinally in a non-smoking form. It is not up to a landlord (me or anyone else) to determine what “medication” a medical professional feels is the best treatment for a specific ailment or situation. That would be like me saying which medication to take for heart disease. Smoking is a problem overall due to the effects it has on the property (dirty walls, burnt carpets, fires, litter, etc.) and the people who live in our buildings.”

George Valeri:
“I’ll tell you what I just did with my occupancy agreement now that marijuana has been voted in, my opinion doesn't make it right. In my agreement, I changed what I had from no smoking in the building and consuming alcohol is confined to one’s room. To instead read, no mind-altering substances will be allowed on the property or using it in the building violators caught will be evicted. This does not take into consideration substances being prescribed by a medical doctor. That is totally in the control of the patient and the doctor. That's the way I'm handling it.”

Russell Sabadosa:
“I will stick with non-smoking and clarify tobacco smokers are welcome in parking lots but not weed.  I will welcome edibles as long as they are treated like prescription drugs, safe and away from children. I think trying to invoke the Federal government is lost cause. If it is taxed at the state level I am sure the Fed would like to follow.  I think the Feds must already get taxes from the reported income of the stores in states already. It is a job creator. I have come to this choice because I believe all the reasons to make it illegal can be offset with regulation and you just can't change the will of the people.  Over time, more medical studies will either validate its positive health effects or regulation will put warnings out like they did with tobacco.”

All landlords have the right to uphold their own rules within the boundaries of the law. Their decisions to either accommodate marijuana users or not are based on their personal beliefs, experiences, and research. Those who have chosen to try to accommodate tenants who use marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use view the federal risk as a negligible cost to keeping good tenants. Those who have chosen to prohibit smoking and growing marijuana in their properties are sustaining safe environments for children and tenants who suffer with asthma or allergies. Either way, it’s good to know that both marijuana users and non-users will have the ability to choose between marijuana-friendly and -restricted rentals.

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