Can You Sue A Landlord For Discrimination Over Use Of Medical Marijuana?

Law Blog

Many people use marijuana to treat a medical condition such as chronic pain. Therefore, it's understandable these people may think they are covered under the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA), and they may be shocked when a landlord refuses to rent to them or evicts them from the unit because of their marijuana use and possession. If you're in this situation, you may be wondering if you can sue for discrimination if you live in a state where marijuana is legal. Probably not, and here's why.

Marijuana is Still Illegal at the Federal Level

It's true that the ADA prohibits landlords from discriminating against people with disabilities and requires them to make reasonable accommodations for disabled Americans and those with medical challenges. The problem is, the ADA is a federal act that only covers conditions, impairments, and treatments that are legal under federal law.

As of 2016, the federal government still considers marijuana to be an illegal drug; so, unfortunately, medical cannabis users are not covered under the ADA. While cannabis may be legal to use under state law, federal law takes precedence when it clashes with state laws. Therefore, even though the state may have laws prohibiting discrimination against those who use medical marijuana, the landlord may still prevail in court by citing adherence to federal law as the reason.

Possible Workarounds

It may still be possible to win a disability discrimination case against a landlord if you can prove the landlord's decision to deny your application or evict you was actually based on your disability or an unwillingness to accommodate your needs. For instance, if your landlord knew about your marijuana use but didn't try to evict you until after you requested he or she make changes to the rental to accommodate your disability, then you may have a case for damages.

Your lease may also provide some relief. Leases typically have a line where it says the tenant will adhere to all state and federal laws. However, if it only says you have to adhere to state laws and marijuana is legal in your state, then you may be able to make a case that the landlord had no right to evict you or deny you the rental for possessing or using cannabis because you weren't breaking state law or the lease. Just be sure to read the entire lease to ensure there isn't language in another part of the contract prohibiting the use and/or possession of the drug on the property.

Discrimination cases can be challenging to litigate, especially when it comes to medical marijuana. Contact a personal injury attorney like Todd East Attorney at Law for assistance with your case.


23 June 2016

Business Law Basics: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

When I started my first small business, I had no idea how much I really didn’t know. I was fully prepared to deal with customers, sell product and even handle complaints and returns. What I wasn’t aware of was that there is so much more to it. I was lacking the legal expertise to protect the company and myself. I wanted others to benefit from my experience, mistakes and lessons learned, so I started this blog. From employment law to the legal business contracts you’ll have to sign when you form partnerships, business law is complex. I hope that the information here will help you to be better prepared when you start your business so that you’ll know when you need to call an attorney and when you can handle things yourself.