The phone rang and on the other line was Greg who was at a loss of what to do with one of his tenants that was renting a property. He wanted advice.
Greg had chosen to self-manage his properties after moving out of his property the year earlier. In Greg’s mind, he had rented the property to an “upstanding person” in the community but that over the course of the last few months, the neighbors and HOA had complained about increased traffic, loud parties, and even marijuana smoke that was permeating through the air. Greg even had received a call from the tenant’s 19-year-old daughter yelling and screaming about the fact that Greg could not fine her for smoking marijuana because she had a medical marijuana card that allowed her to smoke marijuana and she needed a place to smoke.
Greg not knowing the actual law and how it related to property management, he just accepted the tenants' “rights” and allowed it to continue even though more complaints and fines were inevitable.
After a week or two, Greg reached out to me and recounted his story. I wanted to help and gave him this information that every landlord should know as I have heard many tenants and landlords who are confused about how medical marijuana works with renters in Utah.
UTAH's CANNABIS LAW
Earlier this year Utah’s medical cannabis law requires qualifying patients to obtain a medical cannabis card from the Utah Department of Health in order to purchase medical cannabis from an authorized pharmacy. The legal forms of medical cannabis are:
- Gelatinous Cube
- Unprocessed cannabis flower in a tamper-evident and resistant container that is opaque that contains a quantity that varies no more than 10% from the stated weight at the time of packaging.
- Was or resin
- Liquid suspension on concentrated liquid or viscous oil
- Transdermal, sublingual or topical preparation.
- Medical cannabis devices such as a vaping pen that warms cannabis material into a vapor without the use of a flame and that delivers cannabis to an individual’s respiratory system.
SMOKING OF MARIJUANA IS PROHIBITED. The process of vaporizing and inhaling concentrated cannabis by placing the cannabis on a nail or other metal object that is heated by a flame, including a blowtorch is prohibited. Edible products such as candies, cookies, and brownies are not permitted under Utah law.
AVOID DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS
Also, a Landlord should never request to see a prescription or a medical cannabis card - this could be considered discrimination against a disability and subject the landlord to a discrimination claim.
Not every lease has updated language that covers medical cannabis, smoking, or vaping. Landlords may include in their leases a clear no smoking or vaping policy. In Utah e-cigarettes are included in the definition of smoking Utah Code Ann. § 26-38-2(6) (2020) even if your lease does not spell out vaping.
NEXT STEPS FOR LANDLORDS AND TENANTS
Tenants who plan on smoking or vaping should ask about smoking and vaping policies before signing a lease as many leases have strict fines for violating these provisions. Some landlords may ban smoking but allow vaping as long as the tenant is responsible to control any odors and restore the property to its pre-rent condition. This may include special chemicals and devices the remove odors from the Property. In some instances, that may even include new paint or carpet.
For more information on medical cannabis in Utah please visit https://medicalcannabis.utah.gov/
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