A Lawyer's Advice for Renters and Landlords On Medical Marijuana
Posted by Laura Vladimirova | March 21 2012 | 4848 views | Comments ↓
Read your lease carefully to see if you can legally grow in your apartment.
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With over 79% of the U.S. population living in cities, many residents forgo home ownership for more affordable spaces, like condos or apartments. In a place like California, where medical marijuana is a burgeoning industry, it is inevitable that, eventually, renters and landlords will go head to head over medical marijuana usage and building grow rooms within the already congested city spaces.
The contentious issue of medical marijuana patient's residing in privately owned buildings has been making headlines throughout the country. Most recently, in Colorado, a Pueblo renter was denied an apartment because his authorized medicinal usage was revealed to the management staff. The manager of the complex refused the would-be tenant because of conflicting state and federal regulations.
According to a legal professional, not renting to patients or growers is actually under a landlord's legal jurisdiction.
San Francisco-based attorney, Michael Pineda* says that in recent times, he has come across a host of landlord, grower issues. Further, the perplexing status of the law regarding usage and apartment dwelling doesn't just concern patients and landlords, it's distressing for licensed growers too.
“[Landlord and tenant issues] are a common occurrence, especially with under the radar cultivation. Individuals may have legal permission to grow but they didn’t secure the permission of landlord. Cultivation and lighting can place an electrical system under a lot of burden and many of the fires in this area are directly related to inappropriate cultivation. This is a concern for landlords,” says Pineda.
We recently ran a piece in our “Ask a Grower” section about cultivating medical marijuana in apartments. It addressed the various tools and precautions an apartment grower should be aware of. However, the larger scope of the conversation pertains to eviction.
Pineda's area of expertise is real estate law, including zoning and leasing. This, coupled with experience in criminal law has given Pineda an all-angled perspective in the field of medical marijuana and landlord or tenant rights.
He also worked on contractual agreements with some high profile medical marijuana dispensaries, such as Medithrive.
According to Pineda, growers who wish to establish a site for cultivation within the rented residency should read their lease agreements carefully. More so, he says that a single family home is the best place for cultivation. This is because different lease contracts present different regulations for renters. Apartment cultivation sites may be in violation of the terms in a lease agreement. For example, converting a bedroom into a grow-room may constitute an alteration of the premises, which could go against a non-alteration stipulation in the lease.
“What is written in the lease agreement is the key. Renters have to be careful about what the lease includes. They may have a permit or a card or a recommendation to use or cultivate, but it could still be in violation of the law, ” he warns.
As the issue is still in its infancy, no court precedent has been set to guide legal professionals and laypeople on how to negotiate lease agreements. Landlords are fearful that by allowing cultivation in their buildings, they will be subject to persecution and growers are ever-fearful of eviction.
“Ultimately, this is discrimination,” says Marlene Sung, a licensed patient and grower hopeful. “It's unrealistic that I can afford a home in this economy. My husband has been laid off and I'm disabled. We have to live in a multi-unit home and I want grow my own. I don't want to lose our apartment, where would we go?”
Pineda has helped growers and landlords with negotiation of occupancy rights and better understanding city rules and regulations. He attributes the anxiety renters and landlords experience to a lot of misinformation regarding lease and contract details.
“Some people have a limited understanding of the law and they walk around with unwarranted assumptions,” he says. “Americans for Safe Access is the best place for a comprehensive understanding of legal rights. ”
While landlords and occupants continue to navigate murky dwelling rules, contractual professionals like Pineda continue to monitor current events to ensure the legal safety of both landlords and renters.
*(Name have been changed to protect the identity of the source).
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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Article by Laura Vladimirova, on Mar. 21st 2012