Medical Marijuana and Landlord Rights

Want access to MHCO content?

For complete access to forms, conference presentations, community updates and MHCO columns, log in to your account or register.

Question: Our community is seeing an increase in the use of “medical” marijuana. Although those using it say they have “cards” permitting them to grow limited amounts, often this limited personal use appears to turn into more than that. We are noticing increasing late night traffic at some users’ homes, and believe they are expanding their grow operations in order to sell the marijuana to unauthorized users. What can be done about this? It is quite disruptive to the rest of our community.

Answer: A good discussion and summary of Oregon’s medical marijuana law is found at the following link: http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/ChronicDisease/medica...

The Oregon statutes are located at this link: http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/ChronicDisease/Medica...

Here are the Oregon administrative rules:
http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/ChronicDisease/Medica...

As you can no doubt see, these laws and rules are focused primarily on legal marijuana use, rather than illegal use. Although Oregon’s landlord-tenant law has a statute giving a landlord the right to issue a 24-hour notice to residents engaged in the manufacture, delivery or possession of controlled substances, it does not include “The medical use of marijuana in compliance with ORS 475.300 to 475.346.”

In order to evict the offending resident(s), the difficulty is trying to prove that the resident is actually manufacturing, deliverying, or possessing marijuana in violation of the law. This is particularly tough since the landlord cannot gain access to the interior of the home or the backyard. (If the backyard is concealed by a high fence, I would probably not advise a landlord to take pictures or view the area by using a ladder or other similar means. Leave that for the police.

All in all, I have three suggestions: (a) Go the police and see if you can enlist their help in stopping this activity; (b) Find out how to start a neighborhood watch program that will discourage persons driving in to buy drugs; (c) Carefully and patiently begin tracking neighbor complaints of late night activity that causes a disturbance to the other neighbors. Begin by first contacting the offending resident by phone or a personal visit, politely asking that the activity cease. If it continues, write a letter (not a termination notice). If it continues, then issue a 30-day termination notice for violation of ORS 90.740(3)(i), which requires that tenants “Behave, and require persons on the premises with the consent of the tenant to behave, in a manner that does not disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the premises by neighbors.”

Once this notice is given, if the conduct stops within the 30 days, you may re-issue a second notice with a 20-day non-curable termination if it re-occurs with 6 months following issuance of the first 30-day curable notice. I prefer this approach, since the landlord is not required to “prove” that the resident was actually engaging in the manufacture, delivery or possession of marijuana. All you need to do is establish the circumstances giving rise to the disruption and that it is interfering with the peaceful enjoyment of the other residents. The judge or jury will be able to “connect the dots.”

Location Tags: