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Sunday, March 9, 2014
HB1503: Prohibit Landlords from Evicting Marijuana Smokers
By Andrew Walden @ 7:27 PM :: 5637 Views :: Homelessness, Drugs

by Andrew Walden

When a pothead pays off a corrupt doctor to ‘prescribe’ his drug abuse, he also buys protection against eviction.  That’s the message from HB1503, sponsored by Rep Karl Rhoads (D-Downtown).  The bill would create:

“A provision in a rental agreement allowing for eviction of a tenant who has a valid certificate for the medical use of marijuana as provided in section 329-123 in any form is void, unless the rental agreement allows for eviction for smoking tobacco and the medical marijuana is used by means of smoking….”

The American Cancer Society points out that “many of the cancer-causing substances in tobacco are also found in marijuana. Marijuana contains more tar than cigarettes.”  But tobacco evictions are not made contingent on anti-marijuana language in leases.  Topping off the irony, Rep Rhoads also introduced HB2577, now before the Senate after passing the House March 6, which would ban indoor tobacco smoking in public housing -- thus threatening undisciplined tobacco users with homelessness while guaranteeing housing to illegal drug users masquerading as ‘patients.’  

Why the bias?  Marijuana makes perfectly good human beings into liberals.  It functions as a tool to shape and mold the body politic as shown by protest movements since 1968 and more recently by anti-GMO protests, anti-Superferry protests, and the Occupy movement.  The future of liberalism depends on a ready supply of marijuana.  Tobacco just doesn’t offer liberalism any of these benefits. 

If passed and signed into law, HB1503 will encourage activists to formally notify their landlords that they smoke weed—something dopers don’t normally do--creating problems for building owners and the vast majority of homeowners associations. 

Testifying in favor of HB1503, one of the few medicated marijuana activists able to form a complete sentence outlines what looks like a litigation strategy based on joining the ridiculous claim that marijuana is medicine to the accurate point that these drug addicts are “disabled.”  All the judge has to do is overlook the fact that the ‘medicine’ is the cause, not the cure, of the disability.

Supporting HB1503, Craig R. Ellenwood claims to have been denied housing “because I was honest with a landlord about being a medical marijuana patient” and then explains:

Most leases and rental agreements state “No Illegal drugs are to be used or allowed on the premises". One argument heard from landlords is that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. State fair housing law says, “To refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when the accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a housing accommodation.“ I believe clarification is needed to avoid confusion and this bill is an important measure to protect medical patients from discrimination and eviction because the current available option is that a tenant must file a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission.

California Landlord/Tenant Attorney Terence P. Carney explains:

A landlord should be well advised that marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law. A landlord should be well aware that marijuana is being cultivated on the property could be subject to having property seized by the federal government under civil forfeiture statutes. Even local ordinances could come down on the landlord if cultivation was prohibited under a local ordinance. A landlord should also be very wary of giving any consent, whether in writing or oral, to medical marijuana usage for fear of other tenants making such requests. Finally, a landlord might open himself up for complaints from other tenants that such usage was creating a nuisance and in violation of the property’s rules and regulations.

In written testimony Honolulu Landlord/Tenant Attorney David W. H. Chee points out how the law will function:

The proposed legislation‘s intent appears to be to allow someone in rented housing to have an
absolute right to use medical marijuana. As written, the legislation raises certain questions:

(1) In order to qualify for the protections of the legislation, does the user of the medical
marijuana need to be the person who is authorized by law to use the marijuana? As written, any
person who uses medical marijuana, regardless of whether they are authorized to use it, is
exempt from eviction. So, a thief who steals medical marijuana and smokes it at a rented
premises would be exempt from eviction.

(2) The term “medical marijuana“ is not defined. As a result, the legislation is vague and
could allow a recreational marijuana user to claim exemption from eviction if he or she can relate
then use to a medical condition (eg. “stress”).

(3) This legislation is at odds with generally accepted law. In every contract it is implied, as
a matter of law, that the contracting parties will act lawfully. Marijuana use is illegal under
Federal law. Enacting this legislation will cause confusion for both renters and landlords as to
whether a rental agreement can, or cannot, be terminated because of actions that are illegal
under Federal law.

(4) This legislation may create a trap for unwary landlords who rent out then condominium
units. Many rented apartments are in condominiums. Condominiums often have house rules
and other restrictions that prohibit the use of drugs, including marijuana. Under HRS 521/
52 such rules would normally be enforceable against a tenant renting a unit in a
condominium and could lead to a tenant’s eviction. This legislation would prevent a landlord
from removing tenants using medical marijuana in violation of the condominium rules.
Nonetheless, the condominium could assess fines and take enforcement action against the
landlord, which may result in significant financial penalty to the owner and, potentially,
foreclosure.

After an initial hearing, the bill was amended to bar the law’s effect in the very few condos where the CC&Rs specifically prohibit “the medical use of marijuana.”  Few CC&Rs have specific language regarding “medical marijuana” as opposed to “illegal drugs”.

HB1503 passed the House on Third Reading March 4, 2014 and will be heard before the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection March 11 at 9:30AM in conference room 229.

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Rhoads:

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