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Eviction for cannabis vaporizing?

Seattle, WA |

my lease forbids smoking defined as 'combustion of tobacco products or other noxious or offensive substances.' if i vaporize cannabis (which still creates an odor comparable to smoking but is not combustion) can my landlord evict me? i realize i have a decent argument but practically speaking how much time effort and money would such a fight cost me? can i recover attorney fees in a winning action to defeat eviction? can i be proactive and get a declaratory judgement my behavior doesnt violate lease terms? if a neighbor confronts me is it in my interest to completely deny all cannabis use.

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

No one gas a crystal ball to predict what any court will decide. You can expect if your LL moved to evict it would cost you money to defend, you stand at least a good chance of losing and would be unlikely to recover attorney fees.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

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Posted

you do realize cannabis consumption is legal under wa st law right?

Posted

If you want to be the poster child for the first case argued on this subject you are welcome to do so. I'm not trying to be negative, but it is going to cost money and is pretty risky. If you look for an attorney who has a firm grasp on cannabis law issues, such as Jay Berneburg, he can call me if he wants insight on the ULD defense.

No counterclaims are allowed so long as possession is at issue, so you are fighting with both hands tied behind your back metaphorically speaking. You can recover attorney fees by statute and contract, but in my experience, it is really tough on the best facts to get fees short of the Court of Appeals.

Elizabeth Powell

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Posted

if they havent started tryung to evict me yet what r my options as far as suing for declaratory judgement on my lease document to beat them to the punch?

Elizabeth Rankin Powell

Elizabeth Rankin Powell

Posted

Anybody can sue anybody else for anything.

Posted

You don't say why you are vaporizing cannabis. If it is for medical purposes, then the landlord would be required to accommodate you under disability law.

If it is for recreation, then you would not be entitled to that protection. Although cannabis is not legal in Washington State, people do not have a "right" to use it. As a result, a landlord could prohibit its use and evict tenants for violating that rule. I think that you would have a good argument that vaporizing is not combustion.

If you within the city limits of Seattle, you have many additional protections. Seattle landlord cannot evict tenants or terminate leases without just cause. A link to an explanation of the statute is below. I don't know enough facts to guess whether you would be protected or not, but the linked document is a pretty easy read.

Unless you have a specific reason not to, your best approach might be to go to the landlord and explain your situation. You might want to put things in writing to help you organize your thoughts. That also would be helpful if the landlord later tried to evict you, and you wanted to fight it.

This is legal information and not legal advice. The final answer to your question will depend on more facts than you can include in your question and some that you probably would not think to include. Treat this as a starting point, not the answer.

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Posted

I Have A medical license however to me this is not a cannabis issue so much as a smoking/combustion issue. if its as simple as telling the landlord its medical then i would do so.

Matthew F. Davis

Matthew F. Davis

Posted

I can appreciate that this is a smoking/combustion issue to you, but I think that you will have a hard to getting it decided that way. Attorneys deal with problems, not specific legal issues. If your problem is that you want to vaporize cannabis, but are afraid that the landlord will complain, then most attorneys and most judges are going to look for the most direct route to a conclusive answer. Once a judge comes to a stopping point, the analysis usually stops there. Here, if you have are a medical marijuana user, then a judge likely would find that to prevent eviction, no matter what the lease may say about smoking. If the landlord violated the just cause ordinance, you would get the same result. These questions have clear, simple answers, while the difference between smoking and vaporizing is more nuanced. In addition to other considerations, if the judge made a decision based on the smoking/vaporizing question, the landlord could just change the lease to prohibit vaporizing (assuming it is month to month), and we would be right back to square one on the other issues. Sometimes all people want is an answer to a specific question like the one you have raised. I realize that it is frustrating when everyone insists on answering different questions, but that is just how the legal system works. Attorneys often have the same frustration with judges when courts do not reach our arguments because they decide matters on other grounds.

Asker

Posted

do u believe it is in my interest to volunteer to my landlord in writing i am a medical user of cannabis and while i take measures to avoid spreading smells from consumption

Asker

Posted

i am a lawyer myself but i would be willing to pay u to draft such a letter on my behalf if it was ur opinion this would be helpful to me

Matthew F. Davis

Matthew F. Davis

Posted

It is hard to say with such limited facts. In my experience, context is very important here. By sending the landlord something in writing, you are preventing him for claiming ignorance. I don't know of any law on the subject of cannabis use under disability law, but it would seem to be a good fit. The requirements to get a prescription should satisfy the definition of a disability. Once you put the landlord on notice that you are a medical marijuana user, it will have to take that into account before taking any action against you. If you are in Seattle, you would have the just cause ordinance on top of that. You also would have the argument that you are not smoking. If vaporizing cannabis is smoking, then what about frying smelly fish? I assume that you want to stay in the property and are to giving the landlord other reasons to evict you. If that is the case, then I think you are better off controlling how and when the landlord learns of your cannabis use than leaving it chance. Among other things, you can present it in the light most favorable to you. If I were formulating a notice, it would go something like this: "Landlord, just wanted to let you know that I am a medical cannabis user. Iuser cannabis to treat my ______, which is a disability under Washington fair housing law. I know that accommodating the disabilities of tenants can be a pain sometimes, and I am making every effort to minimize that. Although it would be easiest to smoke the cannabis, I am vaporizing it instead because of the no smoking provision in the lease. With vaporizing, there is no smoke, but still some smell. I will do what I can to minimize that. Thanks in advance for your understanding." You have the chance to have the first statement between you and your landlord. A notice like this would be gold for any attorney in a fight with the landlord because you were not just saying, "I use cannabis, and you can't stop me," like other people might. For a landlord's perspective, a notice like this about as bad as it gets, because the landlord is going to look like the bad guy if it does anything. I doubt that you really need legal help to draft the letter. You could tailor these ideas to your situation. If you do want help, let me know.

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