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Gearing Up For Marijuana Questions From Tenants

January 17, 2014

As a landlord make sure you are geared up marijuana questions from tenants. What if the person has a prescription (also known as a “card” or “license”) for medical marijuana?

Although federal law does not recognize a distinction between medical and recreational use of marijuana, California does. In 1996, marijuana was legalized for limited medical use. Under California’s Health & Safety Code §11362.77, qualified patients are allowed to cultivate up to 6 mature or 12 immature marijuana plants. Thus, if your resident has a prescription their pot farm is authorized under state law (provided he/she does not exceed the allowed number of plants). As a landlord you have the right to ask for documentation, it’s not discriminatory, a physicians note and copy of the medical marijuana card should suffice. If your tenant cannot produce documentation you have the right to pursue eviction proceedings.

Regardless of the legality of the marijuana plants under state law, their presence may still be deemed a nuisance. Marijuana plants have a strong odor that some find extremely unpleasant, and several plants grouped together can produce an overwhelming odor for neighbors or passers-by. Also, they may attract criminal activity, a legitimate concern of the person’s neighbors. The strong smell as well as safety and security issues fall under the nuisance provisions of your lease. If you receive complaints, ask for the complaint in writing to help you address the issue properly with the tenant.

Here at JLA Real Estate Group, we study new case law and law updates to help our clients who have rental properties.

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