The debate about legalizing marijuana has been one of the most controversial and divisive topics in recent American culture.


alifornia was the first state to legalize marijuana for medical uses in 1996. Although marijuana is still illegal under federal law, it has been allowed in many states for medicinal and/or recreational use. However, there is a growing number of states (almost thirty states and the District of Columbia) that have recently legalized the drug in some form or another. Due to this, it brings up the topic of medicinal marijuana use in association and apartment buildings.

The debate about legalizing marijuana has been one of the most controversial and divisive topics in recent American culture. Marijuana is a drug from the cannabis plant that causes psychoactive effects when smoked. Classified as a “controlled one” substance; it is one of the most abused drugs in our society. The particulars of who can use it, where it can be used, and how much of it can be used at a time has become the tipping point for many politicians, parents, doctors, and residents. That is to say, residents of condominium associations and apartments. Condominium managers know all too well the barrage of day-to-day complaints about the run-of-the-mill items such as excessive dog barking, noisy neighbors, and drifting cigarette smoke. Soon to enter that arena is marijuana. Due to that, many managers will likely receive a request to smoke marijuana inside the building. Now the question is, should it be allowed or not?

Putting aside all of the smoking attributes of marijuana, there are many ways to receive the benefits of marijuana other than smoking. Marijuana can be taken through pills or capsules. There are cannabis tinctures, which are alcohol or oil-based extracts that can be used in a variety of recipes, or made into edibles. All of which would pair nicely with a bottle of marijuana soda. Cannabis can be made into oil or body creams which purport to treat a variety of health problems such as pain, nausea, and sleep problems.

Now, associations are able to regulate an activity not related to the FHA-protected class, however they choose. A ban on the use or possession of marijuana on site does not violate any housing laws if it is legal in the state they reside in or have the correct documentation. In fact, there are associations and apartments in the state that prohibit residents from smoking inside the building, and many of these prohibitions were voted on during board meetings. Though some may be opposed to the idea, if it does pass, then the building is allowed to add this to their declaration provided the proper percentage of owners vote in favor of the amendment.

There was a condominium building in South Shore, Illinois that was comprised of twelve units. Eleven of the residents were active recreational smokers. Now, the association had lax rules for just about anything and because more than half of the residents were participants, there weren’t many complaints, aside from the few who did not smoke.

It may seem like a no-brainer considering the legality of it now, right?


A recent study found that the demand for legal marijuana in Illinois would outpace the supply. At the time this article was written, there are 33 states where medical marijuana has been legalized. It is believed that the president wants to legally permit medical marijuana in federally-subsidized housing. Illinois’ program remains one of the most restrictive in the nation, with regulators tracking cannabis sales and regulating the distribution of medical cards. In fact, the first bill to legalize marijuana in Illinois was introduced early this year. If passed, the law would allow licensed businesses to grow and sell marijuana, and residents would be able to grow up to 24 plants in their residency. In Illinois, users would be allowed to smoke 2.5 ounces every 14 days.

Now, physicians in the United States are not permitted to prescribe marijuana, but it can be recommended to patients to treat several medical conditions including cancer, glaucoma, endometriosis, fibromyalgia and anxiety. If the medical condition being treated with medical marijuana is considered to be a disability as defined in The Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968, different rules or factors may come into play. The Fair Housing Act is intended to protect the buyer or renter of a dwelling from seller or landlord discrimination. As more and more mixed-income developments pop up with income guidelines and strict application processing, including drug testing prior to being approved, some applicants may not get accepted based on their results. If deemed to have a disability, they become members of a protected class where medicinal marijuana would be appropriate.

Boards in approved states still need to comply with both state and any federal laws. It is the association’s responsibility to determine if or how they will allow marijuana usage in community living. If it is approved, the governing documents need to be edited accordingly. • 847.301.7505 | 9

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