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Colorado Landlords and Amendment 64:

How the Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado Affects Commercial and Residential Landlords
Posted on 2/6/2014 by Chad Lee
Amendment 64 to the Colorado constitution legalized the individual use of marijuana under state law in Colorado. Individuals are now permitted to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, and can grow up to six marijuana plants in an “enclosed, locked space.” It is also legal to consume marijuana, although consumption cannot be conducted “openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others.” (Colo. Const., Art. 18, Section 16(3)).

Landowners are permitted to prohibit the “possession, consumption, use, display, transfer, distribution, sale, transportation, or growing of marijuana on” their property. (Colo. Const., Art. 18, Section 16(6)(d)). Employers, likewise, are not required to permit or accommodate the use of marijuana at the workplace. Id. The existing medical marijuana code is not affected by Amendment 64.

Under federal law, marijuana remains a “controlled substance.” Use, possession, or sale of marijuana is still a federal crime. Private property that is used to facilitate the commission of a federal crime is subject to seizure by federal authorities. 21 U.S.C. § 881(7). Federal agents may be able to seize a landlord’s property for crimes committed by a tenant, such as operating a dispensary or growing marijuana illegally.

To date, the federal government has selectively enforced these laws – generally only against the most egregious dispensaries and growers in California and Colorado. There is no assurance that the government will not expand its efforts in the future. As a result, seizure of rental property used in marijuana commerce should be of significant concern in Colorado landlord and tenant relations.

Property owners who may be impacted by this conflict between Colorado and federal law should obtain specific advice from qualified legal counsel to understand their risk and protect their property from possible federal seizure.

About the Author: Chad Lee is an attorney in the real estate practice at Balcomb & Green, P.C., with offices in Aspen and Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Mr. Lee routinely advises commercial and residential landlords in lease negotiation, management practices and eviction actions in Garfield County, Eagle County, Pitkin County, Routt County, and Mesa County. He can be reached at (970) 945-6546.
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818 Colorado Ave
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
Office: (970) 945-6546 / (800) 836-5928 Fax: 970.945.8902
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133 Prospector Rd, Suite 4102E
Aspen, CO 81611
Office: (970) 945-6546 / (800) 836-5928
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211 Midland Ave, Suite 201
Basalt, CO 81621
Office: (970) 927-0456

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