Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) signed a bill last week that will see renter's rights greatly improved. Landlords in Oregon are now expressly prohibited from refusing to rent their properties to individuals based on their status as a medical marijuana patient.
In the past year, there have been several high-profile cases involving medical marijuana patients who had been evicted from their homes for simply using their medicine, even though it is legal in the state. For many sick people, the old law meant that they might have to choose between taking their medicine and their homes. But they won't be forced to make that difficult decision once the new law takes effect.
"Often times patients are forced to choose between their health and well-being and suitable housing," Carly Wolf - the state policies coordinator for NORML - said in a release. "No human being should have to make that choice. And starting next year in Oregon, no patient will have to. It's about time that patients and consumers are no longer arbitrarily discriminated against for being compliant with state law."
The new bill will also grant protection from discrimination to people with past cannabis convictions. This particular stipulation has raised the concern of the Rental Housing Alliance Oregon (RHAO), a statewide landlord's association.
"Asking the landlord, who must make decisions impacting an entire community of people, to ignore convictions others can consider is wrong and something we urge you not to do," Ron Garcia—the RHAO's legislative chair, wrote in a letter to the Senate Housing Committee obtained by The Oregonian.
Despite that pushback, the bill passed through both chambers of the legislature with little debate. These new protections will go into effect on January 1, 2020. However, there is one hitch: landlords can't evict patients for using cannabis, but they can enforce no-smoking policies on their premises. So patients who enjoy joints will likely have to switch to using edibles and other smoke-free ways to take their medicine.