Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and Landlord Tenant Laws

If you are a landlord or tenant in Michigan, it is crucial to understand how the Michigan Medical Marijuana laws affect your rights. At first glance you might think: what does smoking pot have to do with my investment or my tenancy?! From a Landlord’s perspective: If your tenant is a qualified patient, it could prevent you from accessing your own property. From a tenant/qualified patient’s perspective: it could get your registry card revoked or worse – face criminal charges.

In 2008, Michigan voters approved the enactment of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA). This act allows a qualifying patient who has been issued, and possesses, a state issued registry identification card the right to consume and grow marijuana. Specifically, each registered qualifying patient is allowed under state law to cultivate (i.e., grow) marijuana for the qualifying patient and is allowed to keep up to 12 marijuana plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility. This last provision of MCL 333.26424 is a clause that could have serious impacts for either a landlord or a tenant.

Most landlords have a clause built into their leases that allows them reasonable access to the property (if you’re a landlord and you don’t have such a clause built into your leases, you have additional problems).  Lets say you have a tenant that is a registered patient or caregiver and is legally growing their own plants? Under the law, your tenant must keep these plants “in an enclosed, locked facility.” This means that NO ONE – except the patient or caregiver – has access to this locked facility or room.  Not even the landlord.  What if you, as the property owner, wish to sell your investment property, during an existing lease term? You still can…however, neither you nor your prospective buyer can access any such locked room(s).  What if you, as the property owner, need to make reasonable repairs to the property (as you are obligated to do, under the current Landlord-Tenant laws)? Nope. If an owner cannot reasonably access his or her property, that may be cause for a breach of the lease agreement. However, how can such a denied access be enforced? To enforce this access would force a tenant to violate the MMMA.

As a tenant, if you allow anyone (other than yourself and/or your caregiver) access to the locked facility/room, you are in clear violation of the MMMA and may be subjected to having your registry card revoked (possible criminal charges notwithstanding). If you are in violation of the MMMA, you are now illegally growing and consuming marijuana.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe our legislature fully anticipated the consequences of this issue. Recently, our Senate passed a bill that would allow landlords to ban tenants from smoking or growing medical marijuana in their rental units. But this is clearly and afterthought and has not been fully enacted yet.

Another unanticipated issue is whether a landlord can refuse to lease a property to qualified patient.  Federal, state and local laws prohibit discrimination in rental housing based on a number of factors including race, color, sex, age, HANDICAPS or family status.  Does a qualified MMMA patient fall under such handicap? The law is not clear. As the MMMA evolves, these issues need to be tested and addressed. If you are not sure about what your rights are, consult your favorite real estate attorney.




  1. kay rhodes

    You’re right. This law is poorly thought out. I am a medical mj patient. I am disabled with fibromyalgia and nothing but cannabis works to alleviate my constant and chronic pain. I’m not growing my own and have no interest in doing so. I typically smoke about 1/64th of an ounce each day – smoking provides immediate relief as opposed to edibles, which takes 30-60 minutes. My apartment complex – which did not disclose their discriminatory rule until after our deposit was accepted – won’t allow any mmj. I can switch to all edibles and fly under their radar (because all mmj is prohibited), but those products are 5x more expensive than flower and I can’t afford that as my disability application limits my income (and I only make $800 a month at the part time job I hold). So not only are they preventing me from taking my medicine in the best form for my condition, they are also hurting me financially. Hypocritically, the management does, however, encourage cigarette smoking to the point of providing ashtrays! all of the hallways reek of cigarette smoke so badly that it’s triggering my asthma. But I’m not allowed to have my prescribed medication? this is discrimination at its finest. I’m literally crying in pain as I write this because a notice was left on my door this afternoon threatening to call the police – so I’ve gone 6 hours without medication. My shoulders are locking, my joints are swelling, and and everything aches so badly I can hardly walk. This law is bogus and ill conceived – the state chapter of the ACLU will probably be very interested in hearing about my situation.

  2. Ryan nolf

    My landlord clause states that no drug use in on or at the property for it’s ground for a eviction if I aquire a medical marijuana I’d do I still have a risk of getting evicted ?

  3. Dominic Silvestri

    thanks for your inquiry. Technically, medical marijuana is still considered “drug use” under the law. Michigan also allows Landlords to prohibit such use in rental properties. Short answer: yes, you could be at risk for possible eviction – even if your use is lawful.


  4. Hi, so if I’m medical and growing in my apartment could I be arrested and charged?

  5. Dominic Silvestri

    If you are legally authorized as a patient and/or care giver, your could not be arrested and charged. However, your landlord could prohibit this activity for which you could face civil liability.

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