The Minnesota media has been abuzz with stories and commentaries on the possibility that our state will be the next state to legalize the sale and adult use of recreational marijuana. Minnesota has allowed the use of medical cannabis (marijuana) in oil, pill, and vapor forms since 2014 (that is to say, there is no smoke-able medical marijuana in Minnesota);  however, legalization of recreational marijuana will bring new challenges to residents, owners, and managers of multi-unit housing where air is shared and smoke easily infiltrates neighboring units.

States such as Massachusetts and Maine which have legalized the drug for medicinal and recreational purposes have experienced complaints of secondhand marijuana smoke exposure in multi-unit housing. The same could be the case in Minnesota if and when legalization occurs. In fact, some Minnesota property owners and managers are already noticing an increase in secondhand marijuana smoke incidents in their buildings. This could possibly be due to the normalization of smoking that occurs as a result of simply discussing legalization, and, regardless of the cause, is a wake-up call that this is an issue that will impact many.

What can multi-unit housing residents and managers do to prepare?

  1. Property managers and homeowners associations should review their smoke-free policies to ensure that they define smoking to include “natural or synthetic tobacco or plant products intended for inhalation” or explicitly mentions marijuana (sample available here). Managers and associations of buildings that do not have a smoke-free policy, or have a policy with a weak definition of smoking, should adopt or update those policies respectively. Live Smoke Free is available to assist with these processes.
  2. Property managers should proactively communicate with residents. Emphasize that marijuana use inside the building, regardless of its legality in Minnesota, is a violation of the smoke-free policy and could result in lease termination. Remind residents that currently, use and possession of marijuana is still criminal activity that can put their housing at risk along with other serious consequences
  3. Residents of multi-unit housing should review their building’s smoke-free policy and express concerns about secondhand smoke to their property manager or homeowners association board.

Take these steps now to ensure that smoke-free housing stays smoke free if and when Minnesota legalizes recreational marijuana.

Click here for more information about the harmful health effects of secondhand marijuana smoke exposure.

Click here for legal information on marijuana and housing.