I received a call from an Oregonian yesterday who was asking me about our marijuana legalization law. She’s the owner of a mobile home which she has just moved into a mobile home community – a trailer park, in plain English. But before she could do so, she was required by the trailer park owner to sign a document indicating that she would not smoke marijuana insider her home.
“Can they do that?” she asked me. Unfortunately, I had to tell her yes, it is perfectly legal for a landlord to discriminate against cannabis consumers.
We discussed the problem. She, like most people, agrees with the idea that landlords have the right to ban smoking or cultivation in their rental properties. “I can see someone banning smoking in their apartment or duplex or house for rent,” she said. “They don’t want to have to deal with cleaning up the smell of smoke. But what I don’t understand is this is my mobile home – I own it. What right does the park have to stop me from smoking in a home I own?”
That’s a good question that had me pondering my answer. The way I understand it, a property owner has full control over whether marijuana will be smoked on the property. A trailer park is clearly someone’s property, and if he bans marijuana smoking on that property, wouldn’t that include the homes that are located upon that property?
But the question got murkier as I started looking up resources for Oregon tenants concerning smoking in rental properties – any kind of smoking. In 2010, Oregon passed a law requiring the disclosure by landlords of their tobacco-smoking policies for renters. It doesn’t tell landlords whether they should ban smoking, it just requires that whether smoking is allowed, restricted, or banned, the tenant must be made aware of the policy prior to signing the lease.
In reviewing that disclosure law, Smoke Free Housing Info states that there is an exemption in the law for “People who own their manufactured home or floating home [who] often rent the space where their homes sit,” exactly the situation of the lady who had called me. Under the disclosure law, “they are considered homeowners and not renters.”
But does that exemption mean that a mobile home owner is a “homeowner” and the trailer park can’t ban what she does inside her own home? Or does the exemption mean that the trailer park owner isn’t required to disclose a smoking policy to the mobile home owner, but that in no way stops him from coming up with a policy that bans smoking on his property, the trailer park?
In other words, does it mean landlords can ban smoking on any property, but are only required to disclose the ban for non-homeowners, or does it mean landlords can only create bans for rental units and not site-renting homeowners?
Of course, whatever the proper answer is to that question about tobacco smoking may not apply in the case of marijuana smoking. Regardless, legalizing marijuana should include the right to consume it in one’s own home, and people who own mobile homes shouldn’t lose that right because someone else owns the land their home is sitting upon.
UPDATE: Just spoke to someone at Oregon Housing. She agrees with me that if you own a home, nobody can stop you from smoking in it. Outside it on the trailer park grounds, sure, but not in your home. Now, we were talking implicitly about tobacco smoking, but I can’t see how it wouldn’t also cover cannabis smoking, something just as legal for you to do in your own home as smoking a cigarette.