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Editor: Stephen Clowney
Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Legal Pot vs. Homeowners’ Associations

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The Associated Press looks at a growing source of tension:

Pot may be legal in some states – but the neighbors don’t have to like it.

Marijuana and hemp have joined wacky paint colors and unsightly fences as common neighborhood disputes facing homeowners associations. Though a few HOAs have willingly changed their rules to accommodate for legal marijuana use or home-growing, many more are banning home pot smoking.

Homeowners associations can’t ban members from using marijuana in their homes when it’s legal. But if neighbors can see or smell weed, the law is clear – HOAs have every right to regulate the drug as a nuisance, or a threat to children along the lines of a swimming pool with no fence.

“The fact that people may be legally entitled to smoke doesn’t mean they can do it wherever they want, any more than they could walk into a restaurant and light up a cigarette,” said Richard Thompson, who owns a management consulting company that specializes in condominium and homeowner associations.

Thompson said his home condo development in Portland is a prime example of how marijuana’s growing acceptance has sparked neighbor conflicts.

“As soon as spring and summer come around, we hear complaints about marijuana smoke because people are out on their patios and they have the windows down,” he said.

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