Marijuana laws have been getting a great deal of attention in the news in recent months, and supporters of the movement recently won a number of landmark victories on Election Day. Medical marijuana poses certain risks for landlords, however; legal complications that could leave building owners open to lengthy landlord-tenant disagreements or even federal prosecution.

Though Michigan has laws in place that allow certain individuals to grow up to 12 marijuana plants for private use, landlords should think twice before allowing this practice on their properties.

Growing marijuana indoors poses a number of problems for property owners. First and foremost, although medical marijuana is legal at the state level, the federal government still lists the drug as a banned substance. This means landlords could find themselves liable for federal prosecution.

Some landlords also fear that growing private stores of marijuana on the premises could increase the likelihood of a burglary or break-in. Thieves could view the small, private apartment as an easy place to obtain the drugs.

Additionally, growing large amounts of marijuana in small, residential spaces presents a certain danger to the property itself. The growth of such large plants requires a great deal of moisture; careless cultivation could lead to problems with mildew and mold.

Landlords can protect themselves by properly preparing their lease agreement. The laws governing the landlord-tenant relationship are already rather complex, and when the hazy legal territory of conflicting state and federal laws come into play, the legal situation can quickly become extremely complicated. New landlords should therefore protect themselves from legal disputes by drafting their lease agreements with the assistance of an experienced professional.

Source: NuWire Investor, “Landlords Concerned About New Marijuana Laws,” Richard D. Vetstein, Esq., Nov. 13, 2012