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California Renters’ Dilemma: What To Do When You Can’t Smoke In Your Own Home

In November, the property manager of MiraBella Apartments in Palm Springs sent a memo to the residents: “We have been noticing recently that the smell of marijuana has become increasingly noticeable on the premises of MiraBella,” wrote Kevin Millard, the complex’s community director. “We have also been receiving complaints from many residents about the smell of marijuana.”’

The letter went on to say that exceptions to the non-smoking rule would be considered for medical marijuana card holders. However, the buzz-killing memo is a harsh reminder for renters in California that even though weed is legal, it’s still not tolerated in many locations, especially those being rented out.

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Seventeen million people rent in California and it’s guaranteed that a large percentage of them use cannabis. Some leases are simply no smoking, but others aren’t tolerant of any usage. Of course there are always tinctures, edibles, salves and even quickly dissipating vape pens with which to fly under the radar, but sometimes a toker simply wants their flowers.

The California Apartment Association has a lot to do with the anti-pot rules. Their standard lease language does not allow for growing or using cannabis, period. “Owners had consistently used this type of lease language even under medical use,” said Debra Carlton, head of public policy for the Association. “[Landlords] can prohibit the smoking of cannabis and, of course, tobacco as well, because it’s always been a challenge for owners when neighboring tenants complain.”

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All in all, it’s about not disturbing the neighbors. Some cultivars of cannabis have extremely strong aromas and not everyone is down with the skunky, diesel smells of dank ass marijuana. And the last thing an apartment building wants is a mass exodus of non-smokers when their leases are up. It’s understandable, but still smacks of unfairness. Cannabis is legal. The People have spoken. And it’s just another reason why smoking lounges are necessary all over the place in legal states.

For now, apartment dwellers in California would do well to keep their usage on the down-low. Being loud and proud can get one evicted in the worst case scenario, and even with dank edibles to assist, moving is no joke and you won’t have a good recommendation for the next place. The smartest thing to do is keep your cards close to your chest when renting in a non-smoking habitat when you’re a cannabis imbiber.


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