Complex denied user an apartment based on pot use.
Marlena Martino’s father is caught in one of the numerous gray areas between Colorado’s medical marijuana laws and the federal government stance against pot.
Martino said her 55-year-old father was rejected from a lease at the Minnequa Shores apartment complex after she revealed that he had a medical marijuana certificate.
Managers at the apartments declined to comment on the complex’s drug policy.
“We go to sign the lease and the woman brought up their policy on drugs and crime. I told her about his medical marijuana certificate and she said we couldn’t sign the lease,” Martino said. “What I don’t understand is how can you pick and choose which laws to follow? Who are you to decide what’s valid?”
Martino said her father suffers from a number of maladies, including muscular dystrophy and chronic back pain.
She said he doesn’t need continuous care, but she wants her father to live nearby.
Colorado’s medical marijuana law makes it legal for people with certain conditions to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana or up to six plants, three of which are mature, to treat their conditions.
Marijuana is not specifically listed as a prescribed medicine.
Instead, physicians consult with patients and issue recommendations to the state, which then issues patients medical marijuana registry cards allowing them to possess and grow the drug.
But the state law is in contradiction to the federal stance on marijuana, which does not recognize any medicinal benefit of the plant.
Issues like how a private business deals with the state medical marijuana law are among the many gray areas created by the division between the state and federal law.
Attorney Karl Tameler, who has hosted conferences with medical marijuana users and growers to educate them about the law said, at first blush, the complex may have had the right to refuse the lease.
“Most lease agreements have provisions where tenants agree not to violate any state, local or federal laws,” Tameler said. “And this does highlight the friction, again, between the state and federal law.”
Tameler said that to his knowledge, something like this issue hasn’t been tested yet in the state’s courts.
He said he would tend to feel like it’s a discriminatory practice, but isn’t convinced medical marijuana users would be considered a protected class under the state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination in lease agreements.
“You’re not going to get any relief,” Tameler said.
Martino said she plans to try. She said she’s working with medical marijuana advocates in Denver to find help.