Bill sponsor Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge , said the bill simply reinforces a previous decision by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette that put the power of deciding whether or not a tenant could smoke medical marijuana in the hands of the landowners.
“All I’m trying to do is quantify that stature,” Jones said.
The bill does not include edibles, oils or other creams used by patients. It only includes growing and smoking.
Jones said multiple tenants have come forward with claims of damage because the previous tenant was growing medical marijuana in the house. He said a house in DeWitt had damages of more than $20,000.
Although some damages have been caused by the abuse of growing and smoking medical marijuana in rental properties, options still exist for the patients that need and don’t abuse the privilege of medical marijuana, Jones said.
“They could go outside,” he said.
Knowledge of the attorney general’s decision is not widely known by rental companies and landlords, Jones said.
“There is a huge problem understanding the law,” he said. “This bill would be requiring it to be a part of the lease.”
Local rental companies said vague language is always presented to them when getting students to sign leases. Community Resource Management Co. President David Olson said state officials always inform them about laws, but not in much detail.
“We hear things vaguely all the time from the Capitol,” he said. “We comply with all laws. I tend to advocate for my customers’ rights, but we will continue to comply with all laws.”
Olson said he has never had a problem with tenants growing marijuana in his houses. He said it hasn’t happened often and when it has the tenants have cooperated with regulations.
“We haven’t had any issues,” he said. “The few times we’ve come across people who have a license to grow they have complied well with regulations.”
Brian Hagan of Hagan Realty said the state makes his company aware of the law every year in the same way they make CRMC and other rental companies in East Lansing aware, but they aren’t always the most detailed in what the law means.
Hagan said their leases have nothing in them about smoking medical marijuana, but they do prohibit growing and selling marijuana.
“Some housing companies in town have rules against smoking, but not us,” he said.
Hagan said he would prefer if no one smoked in their properties, but they will not say no to something that is legal.
“We don’t like to take stances on the legality of something,” he said. “If it’s legal, it’s legal, but if there was no smoking that would be better.”
The bill went through the Senate by a vote of 31-7 and will move on to the House for consideration.
Staff reporter Rafael Lopez Aguilar contributed to this report.