Medical marijuana runs into a lot of complications due to its status with the federal government– employers can terminate you for use of a medicine that you genuinely need, you’re still at risk due to violating federal law even if you follow all state guidelines – and now in Michigan, landlords can decide to not allow you to smoke marijuana on rented residential property.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation that was sponsored by Republican Senator Rick Jones, who claims that two homes in his neighborhood were destroyed when someone attempted to convert them into greenhouses for illegal marijuana grow operations. This bill will make it perfectly legal for a landlord to kick you out for growing or smoking medical marijuana, regardless of whether or not you are otherwise complying with the state law.
There are some patients who automatically jumped to claiming that this is discrimination against medical marijuana users – and while in a way, it sort of is, but according to the law (as interpreted by a law school professor) it’s perfectly legal. Unfortunately, this is bad news for patients, who may find themselves losing housing over this new addition to the law.
“Discrimination is a very misunderstood word and it’s probably the most misunderstood word in the law,” said Cooley Law School Distinguished Professor Emeritus Curt Benson.
Benson went on to use the example of how alcohol is illegal when you are 20 – but when you turn 21 you can drink all you want, assuming you don’t drive anywhere; while this is technically discrimination against people 20 and younger, it is still not legally considered discrimination. He goes on to explain that there are things listed federally and at a state level that you can’t discriminate against (things like sexual orientation and religion).
“There are laws — civil rights laws at the federal level, something called Elliott-Larsen at the Michigan level — that list certain criteria that you can’t discriminate against. If it’s not on that list, frankly you’re free to discriminate.” Benson said.
Actually, the new legislation was written specifically not to discriminate by allowing patients to consume medical marijuana infused edibles or use other non-smoked forms for the plant in rented homes, legally giving them a way to medicate even in a rented home. However, if the individual is looking to grow their own medicine or smoke, they may have to “seek out the rental units that advertise actively marijuana friendly” according to Jones.