As you’ve probably heard, as of Jan. 1 it became completely kosher for adults over the age of 21 in Colorado to saunter into their local Ye Olde Recreational Marijuana Shoppe, make a purchase for personal consumption, and then return to the privacy of their own homes and (discreetly) get high. Simple as that.

Or not.

According to Denver’s KUSA 9News, apartment landlords, management companies, and property owners, many of them under pressure from non-pot-smoking tenants, are forbidding the use of marijuana in their buildings even though the state legally permits it.

Vic Sulzer, an attorney representing the Apartment Association of Colorado, describes a “steady stream of phone calls” coming in from clients ever since Colorado's first wave of recreational pot stores officially opened for business less than two weeks ago (apparently, sales have been more than brisk). Ultimately, landlords do have the power to green light — or completely disallow — toking on the premises and if a rental agreement expressly forbids the activity, than this trumps Colorado law.

"A landlord's lease has a provision that prohibits whatever landlord wants to prohibit," explains Sulzer. Sulzer goes on to explain in a somewhat shaky analogy that under Colorado state law “it’s legal to bring your motorcycle into your house and change the oil in your living room but that doesn’t mean your landlord has to allow a tenant to do the same thing.”

As for the tenants who have complained to landlords about their neighbors lighting up, it’s not made exactly clear what prompted them to do although it’s safe the assume the fragrant aroma of Purple Urkel or Strawberry Cough wafting down hallways and corridors probably has something to do with it. Or maybe it’s the discarded Dominos boxes stacked 10 high at the communal trash disposal area.

Whatever the case, Colorado renters looking to partake in private pot puffing sessions should first read the fine print in their leases or check in with their landlords before investing in dedicated “door towels” and taping scented dryer sheets on top of the HVAC vents. Bribing your landlord with a plate of "special" brownies is not recommended.

It's also worth pointing out that the Colorado's Clean Indoors Act prohibits smoking of any kind in common areas or within 15 feet of a building.


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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

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