Q: In 2016, I leased a one-bedroom apartment. The lease had a provision that I was not to engage in any “illegal activities” on the premises. After recreational use of marijuana became legal in 2019, I began to smoke occasionally at home, to unwind after work. My landlord now says I am in violation of the lease, and is threatening to evict me if I don’t stop. I think what I choose to do in the privacy of my own apartment is my own business, as long as I’m not breaking any laws.
A: You may not be breaking any state laws, but you still might be out of luck.
While Michigan’s “Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act,” a ballot proposal approved by voters in November 2018, allows the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana, and even allows the cultivation of up to 12 plants at home, the rights under the law are qualified. Only people 21 and over may legally use marijuana, and it’s against the law to drive while under the influence of marijuana, or to use marijuana while driving. The statute states that the drug cannot be used on the grounds of a public school or in a “public place” and it cannot be cultivated for personal use if plants are visible from a public place.
If the owner, occupant, or management of a property so decides, “the consumption, cultivation, distribution, processing, sale or display of marihuana” can be prohibited, “except that a lease agreement may not prohibit a tenant from lawfully possessing or consuming marihuana by means other than smoking.”
That’s right — your landlord can legally prohibit you from enjoying a legal substance in your own home.
Whether your landlord can move to evict you now is another story. If your lease does not prohibit smoking, and the building is not designated “smoke free,” your landlord may find it harder to give you the boot. That said, you could find that your lease is not renewed when it comes time to sign for another year.
Your best course, if you like your apartment, is to give up your after-work smoke. If you need a little something extra to take the edge off after a long day, perhaps you could ingest marijuana in some other form. Edibles, both solid and liquid, made up $19 million of July’s record-setting $128,325,983 sales in Michigan’s adult recreational marijuana market, according to a state report.
With marijuana legal, those who toke have no more rights than cigarette smokers. And being a smoker is not a protected category under federal or Michigan law. Smokers can even be denied work, simply based on their conduct. Workers who test positive for marijuana can be fired.
Marijuana smokers have even fewer rights under federal law, under which use of marijuana is still a crime. The federal Fair Housing Act does not protect tobacco smokers or marijuana smokers, not even as an accommodation to those who use pot to treat a medical condition. In fact, courts have found a violation of the FHA against landlords who failed to provide smoke-free housing.
There is a reason for this discrimination against those who smoke: Second-hand cigarette smoke has been linked to respiratory disease and asthma, particularly in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), second-hand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of these are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. Second-hand marijuana smoke contains many of the same carcinogens and chemicals as tobacco smoke, with the added danger of THC, which may affect children — and even pets.
Allowing smoking can also drive up a landlord’s insurance rates. The National Fire Protection Association reports that 5 percent of reported home structure fires were started by smoking materials. Smoking was the leading cause of home fire deaths from 2012-2016.
Source: Macomb Daily