Marijuana Tenants Update – March 2018

  • March 15, 2018

In October, 2015, Incline Law Group published a blog about how the state laws regarding medical marijuana, along with the issuance of the Cole Memo, impacted landlord tenant law.  The article compared the dynamics between the California and Nevada State Laws with that of the Federal Government along with the Federal Government’s ability to prosecute those who violate the federal marijuana laws.

Since that time, both California and Nevada have legalized recreational marijuana.  However, the federal government still considers marijuana to be a Schedule 1 drug, making it illegal for both medical and recreational users.  Former Deputy Attorney General James Cole released the “Cole Memo” in August 2013, which provided guidance to federal prosecutors with regard to marijuana prosecution.  The Cole Memo essentially directeMarijuana Leasesd federal prosecutors not to prosecute certain uses of marijuana if the use did not violate the local state law, which has allowed the industry to blossom.  The Cole Memo also provided landlords who rented to tenants that were involved in the marijuana business a sense of security so long as the landlord and tenant complied with local laws.

In January, 2018, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced the withdrawal of the Cole Memo.  As previously mentioned, the federal government has the right to seize property used in the cultivation, manufacturing or selling of cannabis.  This can include real property where the owner is merely a landlord who does not participate in the cannabis business.  Under the guidance of the Cole Memo, this risk had been significantly reduced.  Now, due to the withdrawal of the Cole Memo, it is expected that prosecution of all marijuana related crimes, whether or not legal under state law, will increase.  This means that any landlord who has a tenant in the marijuana industry, or even a recreational user who is growing their own plants for private use, again risks prosecution under federal law, including, but not limited to the government seizing the landlord’s property.

While the Cole Memo was not legally binding, it provided many landlords with enough confidence that they would not be prosecuted for renting to those in the marijuana industry.  However, all leases must now be revisited based on the withdrawal of the Cole Memo or landlords could be subject to criminal penalties.

If you have questions about your lease and what your legal risks may be, please contact our office.

(Published March 2018)

PROPOSED LAND SWAP – CRYSTAL BAY LAKE ACCESS AND INCLINE FLUME / BULL WHEEL

  • July 28, 2014

By Andrew N. Wolf, Attorney, Incline Law Group

The owners of the Ponderosa Ranch and the former Stack Estate on the Crystal Bay waterfront have proposed a land exchange with Washoe County. The Ponderosa Ranch contains a portion of the Incline Flume Trail and remnants of the Bull Wheel that was reputedly part of the Great Tramway of Incline used to hoist logs from what is now Incline Village up to the fluming system that sent logs to Virginia City.  The Incline Flume Trail — running from the Third Creek area of the Mount Rose Highway, through the Diamond Peak Ski Resort and all the way to Tunnel Creek Road — still contains remnants of the box flume that was constructed circa 1870s.

The county owns a number of public alleyways that project from County roads to the Lakeshore. One of the public alleyways extending from the County road to the lakeshore in Crystal Bay, eight feet wide by 200 feet long, lies between 44 and 61 Somers Loop, properties that are owned or controlled by the same group which controls the Ponderosa Ranch on the West side of Incline Village.  Several years ago, an attempt was made to abandon this particular alleyway to the adjoining parcels and the request was denied by Washoe County. The current owner has proposed a land exchange in which the alleyway would be traded for a parcel to be split off the Ponderosa Ranch property containing a portion of the Incline Flume Trail and the historic Bull Wheel.

To be clear, the alleyway that is proposed to be traded is not the public stairway that is located between parcels located at 22 and 90 Somers Drive.

There have been strong sentiments expressed on both sides of the issue.  On one side, opponents of the exchange note that public lake access is a limited and valuable commodity that cannot be replaced.  They point out that if public agencies want ownership of the privately held portions of the Incline Flume Trail or Bull Wheel, they have powers of eminent domain which can be used to acquire those lands for fair value.  On the other side, supporters of the land exchange would like the recreational resource of the Flume Trail and the historic resource of the Bull Wheel to be placed in public hands, so that the trail can be kept open, and properly marked and maintained. Over the years, the owners of the Ponderosa Ranch land have blocked access and/or posted no trespassing signs upon the portion of the Flume Trail that crosses private property.  Supporters of the exchange also note that the Crystal Bay alleyway to be swapped is extremely steep and may not be capable of any formal use, development or improvement.  Washoe County currently keeps it closed for safety reasons.

Washoe County has taken the initial step of exploring the concept of an exchange by authorizing appraisals of the affected lands and other investigative studies which are apparently being funded by proponents of the exchange.

Opponents of the exchange also argue that a decision to abandon a scarce Crystal Bay public lake access should not be mixed together with an analysis of whether the Incline Flume and Bull Wheel area should be acquired for public use, such as via eminent domain. They argue the questions are completely separate.

This is an important local issue.  Interested and concerned citizens can follow and attend public meetings and write their elected officials. The Washoe County staff report of May 13, 2014, and various public comments concerning the proposed land exchange can be found here:
http://www.washoecounty.us/large_files/agendas/051314/28.pdf

MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES TO OPEN SOON IN NEVADA

  • July 28, 2014

By Jeremy L. Krenek, Attorney, Incline Law Group

The legalization of marijuana has become a hot topic over the past decade as campaigns to legalize have gained serious support. States like Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Currently, 22 states, including Nevada and California have legalized marijuana for medical purposes if prescribed by a licensed physician. While Nevada passed its first medical marijuana law in 2000, it just recently passed a law (2013) allowing for medical marijuana dispensaries to open causing great debate.

Opponents of legalization are concerned with increased crime rates, increased substance abuse among both adults and adolescents, and a potential increase of dangerous drivers on the road (DUIs). Even though there are numerous states that have legalized medical use of marijuana, it is still too early to tell whether these concerns will actually come to fruition.

On the other hand, proponents are concerned because, while marijuana may be legal at a state level in some circumstances, it is still a federal crime. Since federal law preempts conflicting state law, those who have a medical marijuana card issued by a state can still be arrested and charged with a federal offense. This example has been on display for the entire nation to witness over the last couple of years in California where the federal government has made it a priority to crack down on an over billion dollar a year pot industry.

While both sides of the debate may have legitimate concerns, Nevada residents should take comfort in the fact that Nevada is familiar with regulating a product that not everyone wants to see legalized. Nevada has a regimented process for approving gambling licenses across the state. Many of the same guidelines will likely be utilized when it comes to marijuana dispensaries. Strict guidelines regulate those who can open a dispensary as well as oversee their management. The application process for opening a dispensary has numerous guidelines and checks that must be followed carefully in order to have an application considered. Counties also have the ability to impose further restrictions and guidelines including regulations as to where dispensaries can be located within each county.

Those with the goal of opening a dispensary have many legal hoops to jump through. Only time will tell the effect legalization of marijuana will have on our nation. Until then, hopefully the rules and regulations that are in place will help circumvent any negative effects the new legislation will have across our nation.