For cannabis consumers in Massachusetts, it has surely been a time to celebrate since marijuana was legalized – however, some people may end up a little disappointed. It will soon be legal for residents over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce while out and about, and up to 10 ounces – and even six to twelve plants – in their private residence. However, if you are a renter, then you may find yourself unable to light up in your home, depending on how your landlord feels about it. It is an issue that has cropped up in other states as well – especially when it comes to federally subsidized housing like Section 8.
Since landlords are the owners of the property, it is up to them to decide whether or not cannabis consumption will be allowed in their rental properties. For some landlords this may not be an issue – especially if it is a single family home being rented; however those who own apartment buildings or duplexes or similar housing may find it less desirable. For any landlord the decision will have to be weighed against the possibility of going against federal laws on marijuana – as well as allowing smoking in their rental property.
“Some landlords might be fine with it, and others would say absolutely not,” says Adam Fine, an attorney who helped craft the marijuana legalization law that was placed on the November 2016 ballot.
For over 800,000 people who are currently renting a home in Massachusetts, this could be a little discouraging. It would be wise for tenants and landlords to get together and discuss this new law – so there will be no confusion on whether or not consumption is allowed in the home being leased. This is likely something that landlords will want to have outlined in their lease agreements going forward, rather than going by spoken word agreements. After all, no court wants to hear a “he said, she said” argument about whether or not the landlord said it was okay to toke up in your apartment.
This is an issue that will likely take some time to work itself out – between landlords determining whether or not they will allow cannabis consumption, whether they will allow smoking indoors or only outside, and more will all be lessons learned over the next few years as this new law takes effect. In the end, it will be up to each individual landlord to weigh the pros and cons, the risks and benefits and make the decision they feel will be best.