Can I be Evicted for Using Medical Marijuana?
With SB 46 having been recently passed, the exact content of the law has only started to become commonly known by Alabamans. That has meant a whole lot of people asking a whole lot of questions about what exactly is and isn’t legal for residents of the Yellowhammer State who get an Alabama Marijuana Card.
One of the questions that a lot of people have been asking is if—legality of medical marijuana aside—landlords can evict their tenants for using marijuana in their rental properties.
Like so many questions about medical marijuana and the law, the answer to this question is complicated, but the bottom line is this: As long as you’ve got an Alabama Marijuana Card and are in compliance with the terms of your lease, you’re probably fine.
First Thing First: Get a Marijuana Card
While SB 46 doesn’t address housing specifically, it does establish the only legal way to use marijuana in Alabama. Without a card, all marijuana use is illegal, and illegal activity is grounds for eviction according to Alabama law.
So then if you have a marijuana card, are you in the clear? The answer is still complicated. Like so many things you’d think would be protected when you’re legally using medication, housing and medical marijuana can get complicated.
Next, Check Your Lease
The law gives landlords leeway in creating their rental agreements; if something isn’t explicitly legally forbidden from inclusion in your rental agreement, then it’s probably fair game for your landlord to include.
So could a landlord enforce an eviction based on a tenant’s legal use of medical marijuana if their rental agreement forbade it? Like so much of a post-SB 46 Alabama, there is no way to be certain, but it seems likely that they could.
Public Housing and Medical Marijuana
Finally, let’s discuss public housing, where the answer to whether or not you can be evicted for using medical marijuana gets even more complicated. First, if you think you might be applying for public housing in the near future, you may want to hold off on getting your marijuana card.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is subject to the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (QHWRA), which established certain guidelines for admission into public housing. Compliance with these guidelines is a prerequisite for living in public housing that is at least in part affiliated with HUD, which is more or less all public housing.
In 2011 and again in 2014, HUD issued memos explaining that as a federal agency they were subject to federal law, and thus marijuana, which is illegal at the federal level, is prohibited in HUD housing, and that no new applications should be accepted from marijuana cardholders.
As the 2011 memo put it, “State laws that legalize medical marijuana directly conflict with the admission requirements set forth in QHWRA and are thus subject to federal preemption.”
Further, QHWRA requires public housing agencies “to establish occupancy standards and lease provisions that will allow the PHA to terminate assistance for use of a controlled substance.”
So That’s It? No Medical Marijuana if I Live in Public Housing?
Not exactly. HUD forbids PHAs from accepting new applications from marijuana card holders, and it requires PHAs to have lease provisions in place to terminate the leases of marijuana users, cardholders or not.
But, and it’s a really big but, according to the 2011 and 2014 memos, PHAs have to establish a process for terminating leases of marijuana users, but they do not have to enforce those provisions. As the 2011 memo puts it, “PHAs have discretion to determine, on a case-by-case basis, the appropriateness of program termination of existing residents for the use of medical marijuana.”
And one more big but: Yes, HUD requires PHAs to deny new applications from medical marijuana users, and to have processes in place to evict current users. However, nothing in the law permits HUD or a PHA to access the state’s database of medical marijuana patients, so unless you’re caught in the act, they have no way of knowing if you’re treating your conditions with medical marijuana.
In other words, so long as you’re discreet in taking your medication, your medical marijuana shouldn’t cause a problem for you in public housing.
Bottom Line: If You Want to Safely and Legally Use Cannabis, get a Marijuana Card
Still, there is so much unknown about how these laws will shake out in courtrooms in the years to come, and both federal laws and some local laws continue to privilege those who don’t see the widespread alleviation of suffering as a good thing.
Alabamans have worked long and hard to finally have safe, legal medical marijuana. With so much still uncertain about the future, one certainty is this: All of that hard work has given you the only legal protection you have when it comes to effectively treating your qualifying condition with medical marijuana. So long as it doesn’t conflict with your lease, why not start the process of getting your Alabama Medical Marijuana card?
Reserve your appointment today, and you’ll not only get scheduled for an evaluation with one of our compassionate doctors just as soon as we’re cleared to schedule them, but you’ll also save $25 on your exam.
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Alabama Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at 833-781-5633, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Alabama Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.
Important Note: While we fact-checked the accuracy of this article, its content should not be considered legal advice or an adequate substitution for a consultation with an attorney. If you think your rights as a tenant are violated, we encourage you to seek professional legal counsel. Click here for a list of Alabama attorneys specializing in marijuana law.