What tenants in Virginia need to know if they use medical marijuana
When it comes to cannabis, residents of Virginia have lots of exciting news to celebrate in 2021! Adult-use cannabis is going to be legal to possess starting on July1, Governor Northam has signed a bill that protects employees who qualify to use medical marijuana in the state, and smokable flower is going to be available in Virginia soon.
If you rent your home, however, you may want to consider keeping your celebrations discreet, in order to prevent trouble with your landlord and your neighbors. Even if you are obeying state law by using cannabis products in your home, your lease may forbid the use of your favorite sticky plant inside your abode.
This does not mean you will be evicted just because you are exercising your state-given rights, and some property owners will certainly be more lenient than others (even if your rental agreement says differently). As a matter of fact, we talked to a few apartment properties in Virginia, and every single place we called was pretty lax about their rules related to using marijuana.
In this article, we are going to look at what makes the issue such a conundrum, and what you can do to minimize the potential for eviction as you take advantage of the benefits of medical marijuana.
Important Note: While we have made every effort to ensure that the following statements are true and correct, the information herein is not intended to be legal advice or to replace consultation with an attorney. If you are concerned that your rights as a tenant have been violated, then you should seek professional legal advice. Click here to see a list of attorneys who specialize in marijuana law in Virginia.
The Fair Housing Act is a Federal Protection, and it Therefore Does Not Protect Medical Marijuana Use
Under the Fair Housing Act, property owners are required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants who have disabilities to be comfortable in their homes. This may mean making physical changes to the property, or allowing a service animal if they have a policy against pets.
However, because the Fair Housing Act is a Federal piece of legislation, and because marijuana (even for medical use) is considered a Schedule I controlled substance according to the Federal Government, then its use is not protected under the FHA.
You do Have a Right to Privacy in Your Own Home
Regardless of whether you own your home or not, your privacy is protected under landlord/tenant laws. No one can just come in and start searching through your stuff.
However, vaping or smoking marijuana can create a strong odor that permeates walls and floors. It can stain the walls, stick to the carpets, thereby requiring more extensive cleaning between tenants—which may cause you to lose your deposit.
Additionally, there may be a no smoking policy in your building. If the smell of your medical marijuana use bothers your neighbors, your landlord could ask you to stop.
And finally, your landlord is allowed to enforce a drug-free policy, and they can start eviction proceedings if you are committing a Federal crime on their property.
Using Medical Marijuana While on Public Housing Assistance (Like Section 8) May be Risky
This is another confusing situation: According to a 2011 statement released by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, any Section 8 or public housing applicant known to be using (Federally) illegal drugs must be denied assistance.
However, you do not have to tell anyone you have a marijuana card, this is private information; and property owners and managers may not evict current residents who are caught using medical marijuana without making significant attempts to remedy the situation.
As far as we can tell, this position has not changed.
3 Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Chance of Getting Evicted When You Use Medical Marijuana
You could easily find out how your property manager or the owner of your apartment feels about using medical marijuana by giving them a call! You don’t have to reveal that you are a current tenant when you call. Simply dial *67 in order to prevent your number from showing up on caller ID and talk to management as a prospective tenant wondering if they will allow you to use your medicine in their building.
If you are looking at moving, a phone call with an honest discussion will help prevent you feeling like you’ve made a mistake after you move.
This author called three properties in Virginia, to get an idea of what the general attitude seems to be among property managers, and this is what we found:
No smoking policy prohibits smoking inside and on balcony. But no issue with medical marijuana use otherwise.
Do what you want. Just don’t offend the neighbors. If they complain, you may be asked to refrain from smoking. If they’re cool, you’re cool.
When we called this property, the answer was, “It’s legal, right?” In other words, lease policies are based on state laws. Medical marijuana is legal in Virginia, and adult-use will be legal in July of 2021.
2. Use Products That are Discreet
In some apartment communities, you can tell where the stoners live by the way it smells when you walk down the sidewalk. But you don’t have to broadcast your medicinal use to the entire neighborhood in order to get the amazing benefits of medical marijuana.
Check out this guide to staying discreet while using medical marijuana, to learn about strategies for using medical marijuana without offending your neighbors' noses.
Virginia dispensaries carry all sorts of products that produce minimal to no odor. Vape cartridges are generally on the lighter side and the smell disperses quickly; and edibles and tinctures won’t be noticeable at all.
3. Don’t Grow Your Own Marijuana
You may be dreaming of the day that you can grow your own marijuana plants, but it may have to wait until you own your own property. As your cannabis plants start to mature, they are going to make your apartment smell like there is a 24/7 party happening.
If you do decide to grow plants in your apartment, there are some precautions you should take, and you can start your research by checking out our recent article, “Where Can You Grow Marijuana Plants in Virginia?”.
Having a Virginia Marijuana Card Comes With Benefits!
A Virginia marijuana card will not protect you under the Fair Housing Act, but it will show that you are making an effort to obey current marijuana laws in Virginia—which may help you get the benefit of the doubt from more conservative landlords.
When you have a marijuana card in Virginia, you can choose from dozens of different cannabis products, and most of the state is covered under dispensary delivery services. That means you can have your products delivered right to your door!
Don’t wait until 2024 to get legal access to cannabis in Virginia, when you can get a medical marijuana evaluation today! Give us a call at (888) 633-5808 or schedule an appointment by clicking here!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Virginia!