LANSING, MI -- Landlords would be granted clear authority to ban medical marijuana use on their property under legislation approved Tuesday by the Michigan Senate.
The legislation, approved in a 34-3 vote and now headed to the House for further consideration, requires a three-quarters majority support in each chamber because it would amend Michigan's voter-approved medical marijuana law.
Sponsoring Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said the bill would simply codify a 2011 opinion from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who determined that apartment owners can prohibit the smoking or growing of marijuana without violating the medical law.
"That's already law under his ruling, but it's very confusing," Jones said. "A lot of judges and police aren't clear on it."
Landlords deserve the option to ban medical marijuana because individuals who smoke in an apartment building can bother other tenants and those who grow plants indoors can cause property damage, according to Jones.
"I have had two homes totally destroyed in my district that were turned into grow operations," said Jones. "They were basically turned into greenhouses."
Sen. Rebekah Warren, one of three lawmakers to vote against the bill, said it was important to keep in mind that the legislation would apply only to registered patients.
"This is people's medicine we're talking about. And when you're talking about rental housing, this is where people live," said Warren, D-Ann Arbor. "So what we did today -- not me, I voted against it -- is say that people can't take their medicine in the place that they reside. That's a challenge."
The Michigan Court of Appeals, in a 2013 ruling, determined that edible marijuana products are not a "usable" form of the drug under the medical law, meaning that smoking is currently the only legal option.
Legislation that would have allowed patients to use edible products stalled in the Senate last session but was reintroduced in the House earlier this year. Jones said he is open to the concept but wants to see lawmakers work closely with law enforcement officials.
Michigan's medical marijuana law, approved by 63 percent of voters in 2008, already prohibits patients from smoking the drug on any form of public transportation or in any public place. Senate Bill 72 would add "private property" to that list, provided there is "a prohibition established by the property owner."
The legislation also would specify that a landlord could not be compelled to lease property to a person who smokes or grows marijuana on the premises if there is prohibition in the written lease.
Thomas Lavigne, an attorney for the Cannabis Counsel in Detroit, said the bill would lead to evictions for legal medical marijuana users and criminalize some patients by removing immunity afforded them under the current law.
"This will create more felonies," Lavigne said. "The medical marijuana act was intended to provide immunity to patients so they are not penalized or denied any privilege, and I think housing is a privilege."
But David Soule of the Property Management Association of Michigan, testifying in committee last month, said the legislation would benefit tenants who do not smoke and judges trying to interpret the medical law.
"But most importantly, it stops the potential of damage and fires due to the added moisture and intense lights needed to grow the plant," Soule said. "There are plenty (of) situations where properties have had fires as a result of the methods used to grow marijuana.
Edited by bobandtorey, 10 March 2015 - 01:49 PM.