The Grass Is Always Greener and That’s Why They’re Moving. Are You Prepared for Marijuana Migration?

The term ‘Great Migration’ has been a popular turn of phrase since 1916 when large groups of African Americans made their way out of the rural South United States. Since then, great migrations have come to mean that of a similar idea, when groups of people pick up from or head to specific points at a similar time. People are always moving but when a higher percentage than normal begin flocking to new locations, it’s worth looking for common factors and trends driving the migration. As of now, the great migration heads towards specific states, such as Colorado, where marijuana was legalized by voters in 2012.

The Green Rush

A play on the gold rush, the movement from just about anywhere to Colorado has been appropriately named. According to Vice’s documentary series, Weediquette: Marijuana Migrants, Boulder, Colorado has become its own Silicon Valley.

The term ‘Great Migration’ has been a popular turn of phrase since 1916 when large groups of African Americans made their way out of the rural South United States. Since then, great migrations have come to mean that of a similar idea, when groups of people pick up from or head to specific points at a similar time. People are always moving but when a higher percentage than normal begin flocking to new locations, it’s worth looking for common factors and trends driving the migration. As of now, the great migration heads towards specific states, such as Colorado, where marijuana was legalized by voters in 2012.

The Green Rush

A play on the gold rush, the movement from just about anywhere to Colorado has been appropriately named. According to Vice’s documentary series, Weediquette: Marijuana Migrants, Boulder, Colorado has become its own Silicon Valley.

There are a lot of people moving, and for the most part, they are moving to Colorado. One might think as more people move in, others begin to move out. Like the gold rush before it, people are moving to Colorado but not moving out. The IZA Institute of Labor Economics conducted its study, ‘The Pot Rush: Is Legalized Marijuana a Positive Local Amenity?’ They “[found] no evidence for changes in out-migration from Colorado.”

There are a lot of people moving, and for the most part, they are moving to Colorado. One might think as more people move in, others begin to move out. Like the gold rush before it, people are moving to Colorado but not moving out. The IZA Institute of Labor Economics conducted its study, ‘The Pot Rush: Is Legalized Marijuana a Positive Local Amenity?’ They “[found] no evidence for changes in out-migration from Colorado.”

However, 4.4% of people currently living in Colorado had lived in another state entirely just two years ago. According to Forbes, the rate at which people moved to Colorado “dominated” the numbers over those who moved away.

In plain language, a notable number of people have been found to move to Colorado, but no notable difference has been spotted in the number of people moving away. According to the U.S. Census, the growth rate in Colorado over the last ten years alone was 14.5%. Colorado might be seeing its own silicon valley being formed, but it is far from the only state in the U.S. that is seeing a dynamic change in population following legalization.

The Local Amenity

If marijuana has become legal in your area, you may have already started to see more renters in your area. On the bright side that means there is more competition for housing. With more competition, you can select better renters from a greater pool of applicants and enjoy increased rental profit. You can expect to see a greater pool of renters in states such as:

      • Colorado
      • Massachusetts
      • Alaska
      • Washington, DC.
      • Oregon
      • Washington
      • California
      • Nevada
      • Michigan
      • New Jersey
      • Vermont
      • Arizona
      • Montana
      • South Dakota

Your latest rental applicants might be considered ‘medical migrants’ or ‘cannabis refugees.’ People who suffer from epilepsy, cancer, and other debilitating diseases need access to medical care that they think could benefit them. For medical migrants, being ‘able to legally smoke [or ingest marijuana] without criminal consequences’ is a factor all property operators should be well aware of and prepared for with the incoming pool of rental applicants.

Should ‘medical migrants’ be the ones applying to your property en masse, you will need to be aware of the changing criminal records and language used within your lease agreements and rental policies.

However, 4.4% of people currently living in Colorado had lived in another state entirely just two years ago. According to Forbes, the rate at which people moved to Colorado “dominated” the numbers over those who moved away.

In plain language, a notable number of people have been found to move to Colorado, but no notable difference has been spotted in the number of people moving away. According to the U.S. Census, the growth rate in Colorado over the last ten years alone was 14.5%. Colorado might be seeing its own silicon valley being formed, but it is far from the only state in the U.S. that is seeing a dynamic change in population following legalization.

The Local Amenity

If marijuana has become legal in your area, you may have already started to see more renters in your area. On the bright side that means there is more competition for housing. With more competition, you can select better renters from a greater pool of applicants and enjoy increased rental profit. You can expect to see a greater pool of renters in states such as:

      • Colorado
      • Massachusetts
      • Alaska
      • Washington, DC.
      • Oregon
      • Washington
      • California
      • Nevada
      • Michigan
      • New Jersey
      • Vermont
      • Arizona
      • Montana
      • South Dakota

Your latest rental applicants might be considered ‘medical migrants’ or ‘cannabis refugees.’ People who suffer from epilepsy, cancer, and other debilitating diseases need access to medical care that they think could benefit them. For medical migrants, being ‘able to legally smoke [or ingest marijuana] without criminal consequences’ is a factor all property operators should be well aware of and prepared for with the incoming pool of rental applicants.

Should ‘medical migrants’ be the ones applying to your property en masse, you will need to be aware of the changing criminal records and language used within your lease agreements and rental policies.

If you’re taking these legislative changes into consideration, then you need to update your rental policies. Your policy should cover how you consider and review those with marijuana related criminal convictions in their histories as a potential applicant, your planned actions moving forward, and how you will handle marijuana usage on your properties. The end goal is that you should have the final decision in who does and does not get to live in your property while remaining legal and compliant. This should be done while creating an understanding with your renters so that they can live within their legal rights while also respecting your property.

If you’re taking these legislative changes into consideration, then you need to update your rental policies. Your policy should cover how you consider and review those with marijuana related criminal convictions in their histories as a potential applicant, your planned actions moving forward, and how you will handle marijuana usage on your properties. The end goal is that you should have the final decision in who does and does not get to live in your property while remaining legal and compliant. This should be done while creating an understanding with your renters so that they can live within their legal rights while also respecting your property.

Criminal Convictions in Legalized States

We have always advised against Bright-Line Standards that would prevent you from renting to those with nonviolent convictions like smoking, and that’s for very similar reasons. Moving forward, remember to view past criminal convictions in a new light that factors in the changing legal landscape across many states in recent years. Once you have reviewed your rental policies it will be easier to make informed decisions and keep better standing with future renters.

Criminal Convictions in Legalized States

We have always advised against Bright-Line Standards that would prevent you from renting to those with nonviolent convictions like smoking, and that’s for very similar reasons. Moving forward, remember to view past criminal convictions in a new light that factors in the changing legal landscape across many states in recent years. Once you have reviewed your rental policies it will be easier to make informed decisions and keep better standing with future renters.

This year, Los Angeles dismissed 66,000 convictions related to marijuana – including 62,000 felony charges. If you are in a state where marijuana is legal, but your applicant has a past felony conviction, refusing their application on that basis could open you up to legal liabilities. Until the laws around marijuana usage become more consistent, it may be in your best interest to not rely on bright-line standards to vet your applicants, but instead, solidify a broad policy that clarifies there should be no smoking (of any substances) within the structures on your property. You may not have control over what your renters ingest, but you have some control over rules to protect the condition of your property and what potentially harmful activities will not be allowed.  Consider these facts when updating your rental policies:

This year, Los Angeles dismissed 66,000 convictions related to marijuana – including 62,000 felony charges. If you are in a state where marijuana is legal, but your applicant has a past felony conviction, refusing their application on that basis could open you up to legal liabilities. Until the laws around marijuana usage become more consistent, it may be in your best interest to not rely on bright-line standards to vet your applicants, but instead, solidify a broad policy that clarifies there should be no smoking (of any substances) within the structures on your property. You may not have control over what your renters ingest, but you have some control over rules to protect the condition of your property and what potentially harmful activities will not be allowed.  Consider these facts when updating your rental policies:

    • Does your renter have an appropriate documentation regarding medical marijuana?
    • Is medical marijuana protected by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in your area?
    • If you have a non-smoking policy, where does that leave your renters with marijuana in a non-smoking form?

These are all variables depending on your state and its specific stance on marijuana. Make sure you contact a local lawyer to go over all of these facts when you update your rental policy to keep yourself safe in changing legislation.

Be sure to also review how your screening will look at those with past convictions regarding newly legalized actions.

Great (Migration) Expectations

As Charles Dickens in Great Expectations said, “life is made of so many partings welded together.” The migrations will weld new people to your location, if you are in one of the growing number of states that has legalized marijuana. That means your pool of applicants is likely to grow. They may have job experience or livelihood dreams that aren’t what you expect or are used to. The latest great migration could simply mean that at the end of the day, you have a larger pool of applicants to pick from, and greater ability to find the perfect match.

    • Does your renter have an appropriate documentation regarding medical marijuana?
    • Is medical marijuana protected by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in your area?
    • If you have a non-smoking policy, where does that leave your renters with marijuana in a non-smoking form?

These are all variables depending on your state and its specific stance on marijuana. Make sure you contact a local lawyer to go over all of these facts when you update your rental policy to keep yourself safe in changing legislation.

Be sure to also review how your screening will look at those with past convictions regarding newly legalized actions.

Great (Migration) Expectations

As Charles Dickens in Great Expectations said, “life is made of so many partings welded together.” The migrations will weld new people to your location, if you are in one of the growing number of states that has legalized marijuana. That means your pool of applicants is likely to grow. They may have job experience or livelihood dreams that aren’t what you expect or are used to. The latest great migration could simply mean that at the end of the day, you have a larger pool of applicants to pick from, and greater ability to find the perfect match.

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Nicole Seidner

Cole Seidner is a copywriter here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design with a focus in creative nonfiction. Her free time is spent taking pictures of her dogs or reading deep dive analysis on movies that she hasn’t seen.

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