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Bills let landlords ban medical pot smoking, growing

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing – Michigan landlords have a contractual right to prohibit tenants from growing or smoking medical marijuana in their buildings, according to legislation heading to the desk of Gov. Rick Snyder.

The proposal, which won final approval late Wedneday in both the Michigan House and Senate, would amend the state’s voter-approved law to specify that landlords can use a written lease to preclude patients from smoking or growing medical marijuana.

“I have had two rental units in my Senate district that were totally destroyed by marijuana grow operations they were doing without permission,” said sponsoring Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Both were approximately $150,000 homes. Of course the landlords could try to sue them, but then they have no money.”

The legislation comes on the heels of a 2012 opinion by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who said the state’s medical pot law does not allow qualifying patients to smoke in public areas of restaurants, hotels, motels or apartment buildings.

“An owner of a hotel, motel, apartment building, or other similar facility can prohibit the smoking of marihuana and the growing of marihuana plants anywhere within the facility,” Schuette wrote.

The legislation approved Wednesday would write part of that opinion into state law.

But Jones said the bill would not prevent patients from using edibles, creams and oils “that are not as offensive as smoke would be to other tenants.” The Legislature voted earlier this year to allow patients to use non-smokable forms of medical marijuana.

Some medical marijuana advocates opposed the landlord proposal in committee, arguing it would erode patient protections. There was no floor debate Wednesday.

Because the legislation would modify a voter-approved law, it required a 3/4 supermajority in both legislative chambers to reach Snyder’s desk for potential signature.

The House met that threshold in an 88-17 vote. The Senate approved the final version 33-4, wrapping up work on the bill with just one day left in the so-called lame-duck session.

joosting@detroitnews.com