Landlords & Marijuana:
California Prop 64 – What You Need to Know
On November 8th 2016 California Proposition 64, referred to as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act was voted on by citizens of California along with numerous other state statutes.
On November 9th, 2016 California Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was voted into law by the citizens of California. The proposition made it legal for individuals to use and grow marijuana for personal use on November 9, 2016. However, the sale and subsequent taxation of recreational marijuana will not go into effect until January 1, 2018.
This new law has many property managers, real estate investors, and landlords concerned about their legal rights to prohibit marijuana usage within their rental properties and communities. An already litigious landlord tenant environment exist within the state and many questions remain with some still unanswered.
Here’s what we know: landlords can still prohibit tenants from smoking marijuana in the same manner they can prohibit tenants from smoking cigarettes (tobacco) within the common area and interior of their rental property.
“The short answer is yes, a private property owner could prohibit the smoking of marijuana at his or her property, The landlords could also say yes, but they are allowed to say no and restrict it or ban it altogether.”
This interpretation of the law has been widely agreed upon by numerous attorneys and legal consultants. However, this interpretation is regarding the legal right of a landlord to ban the recreational usage of marijuana.
The legal right for a landlord to ban the usage of medical marijuana is not so forthcoming. Although many legal scholars believe it would be upheld in court the exact verbiage is not included in Assembly Bill 2300 (AB 2300) which preceded Prop 64 in 2011. The Sacramento Bee has a great article on this and discusses the issue at length. Inevitably it’s just a matter of time before we see a legal challenge to this portion of the law which will result in a prejudice to draw from.
Until then and regardless of your position regarding the law if you’re a California landlord seeking to ban marijuana usage in both the common area and interior of your rental property, these three steps will be helpful.
- Impose no smoking of tobacco and marijuana within the common area & unit/property.
- Update lease agreements with an addendum to clearly spell out no growing or possession of marijuana plants within the unit/property. (State law now allows adults 21 years or older to have up to 6 plants)
- Stay consistent and clearly define your position in writing, seek legal advice with any questions prior to acting on matters pertaining to Prop 64.
The significance of this law will have a far reaching impact on other states as nearly half of the US has already legalized marijuana in some form. On November 9th, 2016, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts joined California and voted in favor of legalized use, sale, and consumption of recreational marijuana.
The shift toward open marijuana usage may present challenges for many landlords and property managers. Having basic knowledge regarding the parameters of the new law while respecting tenant rights are vital to avoiding discrimination and fair housing violations.
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Written by Salvatore Friscia, owner of San Diego Premier Property Management a full service residential property management company offering Worry Free property management to the greater San Diego area since 2004 and TenantFinder.com.