Q & A: Is it possible for a condo association to stop a tenant from smoking marijuana?

Marijuana in Los Angeles condo

Question: As a member of the board for my Condominium Owners Association (or "COA"), I am faced with many important decisions. Here in California, I know it is legal for people to smoke marijuana, both for medical purposes or only for recreational purposes. However, I have heard from many of my local condo owners in Los Angeles County that they have issues with marijuana smoke from neighboring units wafting over fences and into their homes. A few of them have complained about the odor, and many have young children. Several have pointed out that they have medical issues that could be aggravated by secondhand marijuana smoke.

Is there anything that the COA can do to stop the issues regarding marijuana smoke from drifting into neighboring units? I know it is legal to smoke marijuana in California, but there must be some way to protect the air of the individuals in the adjacent units, especially when children are involved, medical concerns arise?

Answer: To ensure that the COA does everything necessary to overcome the challenges surrounding this issue, they will have to deal with some key issues. These include dealing with the fact that medical marijuana and recreational marijuana have significant legal differences, legal compliance with both federal law and California law, and facing the inherent challenges that arise when dealing with a relatively new area of law, like those that control the use of marijuana.

For some, standing aside and waiting to see how other COAs choose to deal with these issues may seem tempting. However, this may not be the most effective method of dealing with the issue of marijuana smoke complaints, it is important to remember that marijuana continues to be considered illegal under federal law, and smoking is not a guaranteed right.

There are other elements to consider too, such as the fact that COA boards have been held liable for a failure to take action to ensure owners were protected from the carcinogens in smoke from tobacco. While courts have not held COAs liable for marijuana smoke, it is impossible to see what the future holds.

To demonstrate that the COA is doing everything in their power to ensure the safety of your owners, you will want to maintain detailed records of any complaints received regarding marijuana smoke. By ensuring you have a record of the reasoning behind any action taken by the COA, you will be able to best demonstrate that you have acted responsibility regarding issues concerning condo marijuana smoke.

If you want to ensure that you and the board of your COA can best deal with issues surrounding owners and marijuana smoke, you may want to consider enlisting the assistance of a professional legal team, like the one at Tenants Law Firm. Get in touch with us, and you can take advantage of the knowledge we have thanks to experience dealing with issues regarding COA decisions on marijuana smoke.