Pot may be legal, but homeowner agreements can ban

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Pot may be legal, but homeowner agreements can ban
Lakewood, CO - MARCH, 4: Sales associate, Crystal Guess handles a jar of cannabis inside a Good Meds medical cannabis center in Lakewood, Colorado, U.S., on Monday, March 4, 2013. This is at a Good Meds medical cannabis center in Lakewood, and is one of the facilities that Kristi Kelly, Co-Founder of Good Meds Network, operates. (Photo by Matthew Staver/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MEAUX, FRANCE - AUGUST 25: A field of legal cannabis plants selected for their low content of THC grows on August 25, 2014 near Meaux, France. Cannabis is the source of hemp, which is used in a variety of applications including insulation, textiles, rope and paper. France is the second largest producer of industrial hemp in the world after China. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
This photo taken on July 15, 2014 shows a cannabis plant growing in a garden in Cologne, Germany. A German court ruled for the first time on July 22 that seriously ill patients may grow their own marijuana for medical purposes in certain cases. AFP PHOTO / DPA / OLIVER BERG /GRMANY OUT (Photo credit should read OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 30: A marijuana plant grows under a black light at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, December 30 2013. Starting January 1st Colorado will be the first U.S. state to allow recreational marijuana. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Model ChaCha VaVoom shows her style at the HempCon medical marijuana show, May 24, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts gathered for the three-day event for exhibits of medical marijuana dispensaries, collectives, evaluation services, legal services and equipment and accessories. Under California state law, people suffering from chronic diseases have the right to grow, buy and use marijuana for medical purposes when recommended by a doctor. In 2003 the Medical Marijuana Protection Act, established an identification card system for medical marijuana patients. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Attendees look at marijuana paraphenelia displays at the HempCon medical marijuana show, May 24, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts gathered for the three-day event for exhibits of medical marijuana dispensaries, collectives, evaluation services, legal services and equipment and accessories. Under California state law, people suffering from chronic diseases have the right to grow, buy and use marijuana for medical purposes when recommended by a doctor. In 2003 the Medical Marijuana Protection Act, established an identification card system for medical marijuana patients. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Desiree Martin A picture taken on April 12, 2013 shows plants of marijuana at the plantation of the Sibaratas Med Can association in Mogan on the southwest coast of the island of Gran Canaria. The plants grow from cuttings for approximately two months and then blossom before being harvested, dried, stored in jars for a month and later processed to be consumed on site. Spanish law prohibits the possession of soft drugs like cannabis in public and its growth to be sold for profit is illegal. But the law does tolerate growing cannabis for personal use and its consumption in private. Dozens of private marijuana smoking clubs operate across Spain that take advantage of this legal loophole that serve cannabis users who do not want to get their drugs from the streets. AFP PHOTO / DESIREE MARTIN (Photo credit should read DESIREE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Marijuana plants grow at the MedMar Healing Center, a medical-marijuana dispensary, in San Jose, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. San Jose is the medical-marijuana capital of Silicon Valley with 106 clinics, about twice as many per square mile as Los Angeles. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOV 04: Adam Eidinger, co-owner of Capitol Hemp is a leader in the push to fully legalize the possession and use (of up to two ounces) of marijuana and the possession and cultivation of up to three marijuana plants. He was at the after-party for the Yes on 71 event at the Meridian Pint bar as early returns were in favor of the proposition. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOV 04: Lots of initiative 71 supporters were happy as early returns showed the pro-pot law leading early in the evening. The after-party for the Yes on 71 event was held at the Meridian Pint bar. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOV 04: (L) Adam Eidinger, co-owner of Capitol Hemp is a leader in the push to fully legalize the possession and use (of up to two ounces) of marijuana and the possession and cultivation of up to three marijuana plants. He was at the polling place at Burke E.S. in Washington, D.C. lobbying voters as they arrived to vote. At right is fellow hemp supporter Zack Pesavendo. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - OCTOBER 13: Ray Saccomano, from Aurora, gives one strain of marijuana the smell test. Saccomano says he is glad to have a store close to where he lives. Euflora, the first retail marijuana store in Aurora, opens on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 at 6260 S. Gun Club Road. The store had no lines of people waiting outside prior to opening, but saw a small, steady crowd as the doors opened. (Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Marijuana (cannabis) is arranged for a photograph inside the Evergreen Apothecary in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BETHPAGE, NY - AUGUST 30: A closeup view of marijuana in a grinder as photographed on August 30, 2014 in Bethpage, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 09: A participant smokes a marijuana joint while marching in the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Supporters of cannabis legalization are hoping legalized sale in parts of the USA will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. The city of Berlin is considering allowing the sale of cannabis in one city district. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
An employee pulls marijuana out of a large canister for a customer at the LoDo Wellness Center in downtown Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Marijuana (cannabis) is arranged for a photograph inside the Evergreen Apothecary in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CALISTOGA, CA. FEB. 4: Gordon Brownell is a lawyer, and Republican, who ran for first campaign for legalization of marijuana in California in 1972. Some pot and a pipe, the package is from one of the first medical marijuana stores in California
Marijuana (cannabis) is arranged for a photograph inside the Evergreen Apothecary in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Marijuana plant clones stand for sale in The Green Solution dispensary in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A man holds a giant joint during a march for the legalization of cannabis in Santiago, on May 18, 2013, as part of the 2013 Global Marijuana March which is being held in hundreds of cities worldwide AFP PHOTO / Martin BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCT10: Medical marijuana is dispensed at the Takoma Wellness Center, October 10, 2014, in Takoma Park, DC. Marijuana legalization in the district is medicinal at this point but activists are looking for a broader relaxation of the law. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A 'legalize' poster for a referendum about legalizing marijuana is placed with mayoral posters in Washington, DC on October 31, 2014. Ballot Initiative 71 would legalize the cultivation and possession of limited amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 09: A sticker calling for the legalization of marijuana lies on the street at the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Supporters of cannabis legalization are hoping legalized sale in parts of the USA will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. The city of Berlin is considering allowing the sale of cannabis in one city district. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 09: Participants, including two with a marijuana leaf emblem on their bellies, dance at the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Supporters of cannabis legalization are hoping legalized sale in parts of the USA will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. The city of Berlin is considering allowing the sale of cannabis in one city district. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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By KRISTEN WYATT

DENVER (AP) - Pot may be legal in some states - but the neighbors don't have to like it.

Marijuana and hemp have joined wacky paint colors and unsightly fences as common neighborhood disputes facing homeowners' associations. Though a few HOAs have willingly changed their rules to accommodate for legal marijuana use or home-growing, many more are banning home pot smoking.

Homeowners' associations can't ban members from using marijuana in their homes when it's legal. But if neighbors can see or smell weed, the law is clear - HOAs have every right to regulate the drug as a nuisance, or a threat to children along the lines of a swimming pool with no fence.

"The fact that people may be legally entitled to smoke doesn't mean they can do it wherever they want, any more than they could walk into a restaurant and light up a cigarette," said Richard Thompson, who owns a management consulting company that specializes in condominium and homeowner associations.

Thompson said his home condo development in Portland, Oregon, is a prime example of how marijuana's growing acceptance has sparked neighbor conflicts.

"As soon as spring and summer come around, we hear complaints about marijuana smoke because people are out on their patios and they have the windows down," he said.

It's not clear how many homeowners' associations have confronted marijuana conflicts in the 23 states with some form of legal marijuana. But lawyers who specialize in HOA disputes, as well as a Colorado regulatory agency that advises HOAs, say there are growing conflicts among neighbors who want to smoke pot and others who don't want to see it or smell it.

"What we're really seeing more now is regulating the associations' common areas," such as smoke wafting onto playgrounds or others' porches, said Erin McManis, an attorney in Phoenix whose firm represents hundreds of Arizona HOAs.

The Carrillo Ranch homeowners association in Chandler, Arizona, earlier this year took the rare step of withdrawing a proposed ban on residents smoking medical marijuana in their front and backyards and on their patios.

The HOA planned a meeting on the topic in March, but withdrew the proposal after many residents opposed the ban as too harsh.

"This is a personal-freedom issue where people were going to dictate how other people should live," Carrillo Ranch resident Tom LaBonte told The Arizona Republic in February, when the HOA dropped its proposal.

HOA lawyers say the Carrillo Ranch case illustrates the value of HOAs when the law changes, as with marijuana.

"Coming together and working on issues is something associations have been doing for a long time," McManis said. "We're hopeful that's how it's going to go forward now with medical marijuana."

Smoke isn't the only neighbor complaint posed by loosening marijuana laws. Growing pot and hemp is prompting neighbor disputes, too.

A suburban Denver retiree learned the hard way this spring that he needed neighbors' permission before growing hemp. Jim Denny, of Brighton, Colorado, learned about marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin and decided to try the crop on a 75-by-100-foot plot in his yard.

But Denny's hemp plot ran afoul of his homeowners' association, which ruled the hemp experiment unacceptable.

"As soon as they heard about it, they said, 'We're not going to let anyone grow marijuana here,'" Denny said. "I explained to them that hemp is not marijuana, but they were dead-set against it."

So with his hemp plants about 2 feet tall, Denny invited hemp activists to come transplant them to somewhere without opposition from a homeowner association. Denny sold the plants for about $3 each, a good price for a plant whose seeds can cost up to $10 each because it can't be imported.

Hemp activists volunteered to pay Denny's fines for flouting the HOA, which could have run to $600 a day. But Denny decided that living peacefully with his neighbors trumped making a political point.

"I had people calling up and saying, 'It's just a shame; we'll pay your fines all the way through to the end.' But I decided in the end not to fight it," said Denny, a technical writer and former software engineer. "At the end of the day, I live here."

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