How to Weed-Out Marijuana in Apartment Buildings
Secondhand smoke is obnoxious and potentially deadly. The Centers for Disease Control report that smoking causes nearly 500,000 preventable deaths in the U.S. every year, and that living with secondhand smoke is responsible for almost 1,300 deaths every day. But secondhand smoke is more than just a public health issue: in apartment properties, lingering smoke smell pollutes the whole building, making it seem old, undesirable, nasty. And it’s inescapable: air filtration and ventilation systems do not eliminate the health hazards. Fact: if you’re sharing a building, you’re sharing the air.
MARIJUANA USE IN APARTMENTS: IS IT LEGAL? More than 20 states have legalized marijuana for medical uses, and six have done so for “recreational” uses, thus adding to the predicament of secondhand smoke in apartments.
Here’s reality: marijuana is illegal in this country. It’s illegal to possess marijuana, grow it, transport it or use it. Period. Just because some state legislature approves the use of marijuana doesn’t mean it’s legal, even in that state!
No state can make something legal if the federal government has made it illegal. The federal law – the Controlled Substances Act – makes marijuana possession or sale a Schedule I drug, with a sentence for a first conviction as much as a year in prison and/or a fine of at least $1,000.
MARIJUANA USE IN APARTMENTS: PROHIBITING IT! In deciding whether to prohibit possession or any use of marijuana, there are two important facts to keep in mind:
- Smokers are not members of a protected class, which means that they are not legally entitled to smoke cigarettes or any other substance in an apartment. Put another way, it’s legal to “discriminate” against smokers.
- It is legal to prohibit smoking in apartments.
Here are some ways to get rid of secondhand smoke in your property:
- Include a general lease provision that prohibits residents from “disturbing, harassing, annoying neighbors or creating a nuisance.” Also include smoking, and/or smoking marijuana as an example of a “nuisance.”
- A more specific approach would be to include a lease provision clearly stating that criminal activity in or around the premises that is prohibited by state or federal law is grounds for lease termination.
Let’s be clear about some facts that can impact your decision:
- Preventing marijuana use at your property might negatively impact your marketing success. Nearly 70 percent of Millennials, aged 18 to 34 and the largest population group in the U.S., believe that marijuana should be legal. A marijuana prohibition could hurt your bottom line.
- Identifying marijuana users in your building is hard to do, because, marijuana smoke can infiltrate large spaces, including multiple units and common areas.