Maine’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act – How it Impacts Landlords and Tenants
By: Rudman Winchell Attorney Allison Economy
Maine’s enactment of the Medical Use of Marijuana Act (the “Act”) has raised some questions among landlords as to how far the landlords can go to prevent tenants from growing and smoking marijuana in their apartments.
The first thing a landlord must consider is whether or not the tenant in question is a cardholder. A cardholder is someone who has been issued and possesses a valid registry identification card. If the tenant has a valid registry identification card, the landlord to cannot discriminate against the tenant. Without a valid registry identification card, however, the cultivation or possession of marijuana is still a crime, and the landlord can take steps to evict the tenant if the lease so provides. The landlord may also notify the authorities of any ongoing drug activity.
If the tenant is a cardholder, the cultivation and possession of marijuana is not a crime, so long as the tenant is in compliance with the Act. The cardholding tenant may cultivate up to six marijuana plants for personal use in his or her apartment, but those plants must be kept in an enclosed, locked facility. This means a closet, room, building, greenhouse, or other enclosed area that is equipped with locks or other security devices that permit access only by the individual authorized to cultivate the marijuana. If the tenant is not keeping the plants in an enclosed, locked facility, the landlord should contact the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Act and enforces the related rules.
In certain instances, a landlord can restrict the cultivation of marijuana on premises, but only if such cultivation is inconsistent with the general use of the premises. The Act and its related rules do not elaborate on what may be considered “inconsistent with the general use,” and it may be difficult to construe this exception so as to ensure that the interpretation is consistent with the provision prohibiting discrimination generally.
A landlord may prohibit tenants from smoking marijuana in their apartments if the premises is otherwise smoke free and the landlord posts notice to that effect on the premises. This means that if smoking cigarettes is not permitted, a cardholding tenant may grow marijuana in his or her apartment, but he or she could not smoke it there.