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Can I Get Evicted Over Marijuana? What If It's Medicinal?

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Short answer: Yes. Especially if you live in Washington, DC.

Renters across the country, even in states that provide for legal recreational or medicinal use of marijuana, can be evicted because of the drug. However, in places were marijuana is legal for recreational usage and medical usage, it requires more than a simple "no illegal activity" clause in your lease. Even where pot is legal, if you are selling it, growing it, processing it, and smoking it indoors or in the common areas, you can potentially get evicted.

However, in Washington, DC, just a little bit of marijuana can lead to a nuisance abatement letter to your landlord, which can lead to an eviction. When your landlord receives a nuisance abatement letter, they are under threat of property seizure and you can bet your last month's rent on the fact that your landlord will want you out fast.

What Is a Nuisance Abatement Letter?

According to the Washington Post, the Nuisance Abatement Letter is a product of a 1999 law giving officials in Washington D.C. the authority to sue property owners that don't stop illegal activity from happening at their properties after they have been made aware of the activity. While the D.C. Attorney General is looking to revamp these practices, the office already issued several hundred letters, and many to people that no one would characterize as a nuisance.

The Post explains that a Southwest Washington grandmother was forced out of her home after her landlord received a Nuisance Abatement Letter over less than 1 gram of marijuana (which is a legal amount for D.C. residents to possess).

While these letters have ousted many people who were creating a nuisance, there are too many cases where better oversight could have prevented regular folk from being evicted. The D.C. A.G. office is currently reviewing how the process can be made better. Fortunately, until the review is completed, the AG has issued a moratorium on issuing Nuisance Abatement Letters.

Can I Get Evicted for Medical Marijuana?

Regardless of where you live, read your lease agreement. A "no drug" policy is legal in Colorado and still applies to marijuana. Due to the conflict between state and federal law, most states with medical marijuana laws allow a landlord to evict a tenant who uses marijuana for medicinal reasons, under certain circumstances. Colorado's law allows landlords to prohibit or regulate consumption, use and growth on the property.

Landlord/tenant laws vary from state to state. Also, this issue will be heavily dependent on what it says in your lease. If you are concerned, it is always best to confirm with a local attorney to be on the safe side.

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