What the new Missouri cannabis laws mean for your Missouri HOA
The recreational use of cannabis was passed in Missouri in November of 2022. Cannabis possession for adults 21 years of age and older becoming legal in December of the same year. And it was in February of 2023 that legal adult-use cannabis sales began. With the laws still being relatively new, many Missouri HOA boards are finding themselves wondering how to handle the recreational use of cannabis in their communities.
The new Missouri cannabis laws - the basics
Here's what you need to know about the Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3 - the new cannabis laws:
Recreational use of cannabis is now legal for adults aged 21 years or older
Recreational use includes both the smoking of marijuana and the consumption of other marijuana products like edibles
Consumers may only purchase up to three ounces of dried, unprocessed marijuana product, or its equivalent in a single transaction
Consumers may only possess up to three ounces of dried, unprocessed marijuana product, or its equivalent at any given time
Adults are allowed to cultivate up to six mature plants for personal, non-commercial use within an enclosed, locked facility at a private residence if they hold a consumer personal cultivation license
Those that cultivate plants cannot have more than three ounces outside of their enclosed, locked facility at any given time
For more in-depth information regarding the new laws, visit the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) website. DHSS is responsible for the regulation of adult use marijuana in the state of Missouri.
How this impacts your Missouri HOA
Put simply, with recreational use being legal for adults, you will likely have residents that use cannabis. So, what do you need to consider when it comes to allowing for the use of cannabis within your community while also doing what's best for your HOA.
First, when it comes to the use of cannabis within your property and creating rules around it, you should consult with your association's attorney. They are the go-to expert for interpreting local laws and understanding what you can and cannot allow your residents to do. This will help ensure you aren't creating unenforceable rules within your association and creating bigger headaches for yourself.
Cannabis use in common spaces
It remains against the law to use marijuana in public spaces such as parks, sidewalks, and walking paths. Meaning a rule about cannabis use in common areas can be set similarly to the smoking rules you may already have.
Check your governing documents to see what they currently say about smoking. Depending on how the rule is written, you may not need to make any adjustments. For example, if the rule doesn't specify tobacco. If you want to ensure all use of cannabis including edibles cannot take place in a common space, you will need to create a rule that addresses all cannabis products.
In some cases, local authorities may choose to allow for marijuana use in certain areas. Confirm with your local government and speak to your HOA attorney ahead of setting rules about the use of cannabis in common spaces. You don't want to set a rule for your association that goes against a local law.
Cannabis use in private residences
HOAs are limited when it comes to how much they can restrict a resident's behavior within their own homes. When it comes to the legal use and growing of cannabis on private properties, HOAs must tread carefully when creating rules for their residents to follow.
If your association already has rules restricting smoking within units in your community, you can work to amend that rule to include the smoking of marijuana. However, because marijuana can also be consumed as an edible, you likely cannot completely restrict cannabis use. Be very cautious in the wording of a rule around the use of cannabis within units. And before making any new rules, consult with your HOA attorney to keep your board out of hot water.
In the event smoking in units (like a single-family or townhome) is permitted within your HOA, owners that rent out their property can require that their renters not smoke marijuana in their unit.
Medical cannabis use
Medical marijuana use has been legal and regulated in Missouri since 2018. However, Amendment 3 expands and enhances these regulations. For example, those that hold a medical cannabis license have different possession and cultivation limits.
Additionally, medical marijuana users with a valid marijuana patient ID card cannot be discriminated against for use of medical marijuana offsite when not working. And an employer can't reprimand an employee with a valid medical marijuana patient ID card for a positive marijuana test.
It should also be noted that Missouri employers are still allowed to have policies that restrict marijuana use or intoxication in the workplace.
If you have questions about medical cannabis, use and how it can impact your HOA when it comes to both your residents and staff, your attorney is your best asset.
The cultivation of cannabis on private property
A person over the age of 21 that holds a cultivation identification card is legally allowed to grow marijuana plants for their own use at a private residence. And up to two consumers who both hold these identification cards may grow at the same residence. Meaning, residents within your HOA will be able to do so.
People that choose to grow their own marijuana plants can only grow up to six mature plants (or up to 12 if two consumers share that residence) and it must be done in an enclosed, locked facility. And all growing plants must be clearly labeled with the consumer's name.
While your first thought as a board member may be to restrict residents from growing their own marijuana, this should be considered with extreme caution. Once again, this is a scenario where you will want to rely on the knowledge and expertise of your association attorney.
Always consult with your HOA attorney
Like when any new law comes into play, an adjustment period always follows. The same will happen with the legalization of recreational cannabis use. As a board you want what's best for your community and these laws may initially seem harmful.
Will recreational use quickly spiral out of control? Will these laws cause strife within the community?
Before jumping to conclusions that cause you to set unrealistic rules creating chaos within your HOA, work with your management team and your HOA attorney. Your HOA attorney will help you understand the ins and outs of the new laws and what you can and cannot control. They can also help you draft new rules that will be easy for residents to follow and easy for the board and management company to enforce.
Once amendments to rules or new rules are voted on and approved, your management team will work with you to communicate those changes. A proper communication plan will go a long way in making sure your residents quickly adept to any new rules.