Here in Oakland, California, the “Princeton of Pot,” Oaksterdam University, a school offering classes for those wishing to become involved in the medical marijuana business, was recently raided by the FBI, once again calling attention to medical marijuana dispensaries and the rigmarole that surrounds state law versus federal law when it comes to the sticky situation of cannabis clubs. Mike Widener, a law practitioner from Arizona and professor at the University of Phoenix, has penned a short and informative treatise in e-book form, titled (pun surely intended), Joint Tenancies. The book explores the subject of commercial landlords and the risks of renting to medical marijuana enterprises, or as Widener abbreviates, MMEs. Widener claims this is the only book of its kind published in the United States, and while there are other works that cover MMEs, it appears that, for now, it is indeed unique and would be of use in a law library.
Widener’s work serves as a useful and thought-provoking text for any landlord considering renting to an MME. He makes it very clear in the preface that he is not offering any legal advice and that as an attorney he cannot represent medical marijuana businesses because the transport and sale of cannabis are federal crimes. Widener notes that at the time of his book’s publication, 16 states have medical marijuana legislation on the books and 18 more states have proposed legislation permitting medical cannabis use, no doubt with the gleam of shiny new tax revenues glinting in their glazed eyes.
Widener acknowledges that he doesn’t know the nuances of the laws in each state and strongly advises that landlords considering renting to MMEs seek legal counsel in their local communities. In just 10 chapters, Widener covers the pertinent topics landlords should consider and research before entering into a lease agreement with an MME. In addition, this text could be a resource for those working in the property professions, i.e. real estate agents, real estate lawyers, investors, etc. It would also be of interest to neighboring residents and businesses.
Although Widener acknowledges that his work is not meant to entertain, he can’t resist using a font that is reminiscent of clouds of smoke for the title and pun-laced chapter titles, such as “A Budding Tenant Niche,” the “Straight Dope on Private Land Use Covenants,” and “Bogarting a Landlord’s Joint-Forfeiture Statutes.” The chapter titles are not only descriptive but also appealing to the reader (at least this pun-loving reader).
Widener’s work is thoroughly researched with QR Codes that link to core documents online, easily accessed by a smart phone or tablet with a QR reader app installed. This book would be a welcome addition to any law library as a useful tool for researching what will surely become an increasingly common legal issue as more states attempt to enact medical marijuana legislation. Widener also includes some forms that a landlord might use for this type of transaction, with the caveat that these forms do not guarantee that a landlord will not be subject to the loss of property if forfeited or to personal criminal prosecution. The book is published by Yeoman Timber, LLC and is available for purchase via the internet as a PDF for $9.95 at www.terraincogito.com/buy-joint-tenancies.
Rebekah Henderson is a part-time reference librarian at the Alameda County Law Library in Oakland, California.
Reprinted with permission from the May 11, 2012 AALL Spectrum Blog. http://aallspectrum.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/book-review-joint-tenancies-landlords-and-medical-marijuana-businesses/