Editor’s Note: This article was posted by the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVc) and was written by Rob Coldren. According to CalARVC, Coldren has practiced RV park and mobile home park law, for the past 35 years. Coldren owns and operates RV parks and has also assisted in the drafting of legislation. Coldren’s office is in Santa Ana, Calif., and he can be reached at 949-220-6241 or at [email protected]

Many clients and friends are asking these days about cannabis in California RV parks.

The law allowing recreational marijuana use is brand new, effective January 1, and so advice on the topic is somewhat sketchy until the courts figure out what the regulations mean. But since we operate RV parks TODAY, we need to do the best we can. Here are a few bullet point sign posts to help you navigate issues concerning cannabis in RV parks.

  • Can I legally prohibit pot smoking in my park? I take the position that you CAN lawfully prohibit the smoking of marijuana on RV park property. Some pot-smoking RVer may want to test our legal ability to prohibit marijuana use within the RV park, claiming for example that the Fair Housing Act allows use of “medicine”, and someone with a license should be able to smoke as a “reasonable accommodation”. Such an occupant may also argue that all RV park (as all mobile home park) rules must be reasonable and must be reasonably enforced, pursuant to statute, and it would be “unreasonable” to outright ban its use. Both of those arguments (regarding “unreasonable use”) I think would be “losers”. For example, “edibles” offer a drug delivery alternative that does not offend neighbors and other RVers. So, the take away here is that you should consider publishing a rule prohibiting smoking of cannabis within the park.
  •  If I don’t want to outright ban marijuana smoking, on my property, can I impose reasonable rules and regulations concerning its use? The answer to this is clearly yes. You can prohibit smoking in public view either on the RV space or off, in the common area, and you can prohibit any smoking within the RV itself to the extent the smoke is detectable by and offensive to a neighboring RVer.
  • Does it matter whether the “RVer” in California is an “occupant”, a “resident” or a “tenant”? The answer to this is yes. The RV park occupancy law, as you know, differentiates between guests with a tenancy or stay of less than 30 days, those that stay up to  six months, and those that stay nine months or more. Those that stay nine months or more are essentially granted by law the same rights as mobile home park tenants. Since they are considered permanent occupants, this is presumably their residence, and also the law requires that all rules relating to them be reasonable and that all such rules be reasonably enforced. Thus, above, where I suggested that one could challenge as “unreasonable” rules prohibiting cannabis smoking in a RV park, the risk of an outright ban being determined to be “unreasonable” by a judge or jury is magnified as to permanent RV occupants. As to such persons, you also need to go through the statutory requirements for making rules and regulations apply to them.
  • Setting aside whether it is legal or illegal to ban or regulate marijuana, is it a good idea to ban or regulate it’s use in RV parks? The author thinks yes, you should ban or regulate. While there is legal risk in doing so there is also legal in risk in NOT doing so. Federal law still makes marijuana a schedule two illegal drug, on a par with heroin or cocaine. In theory, your property could be subject to forfeiture, and your lender may not appreciate even the very remote possibility of this happening. The high density in RV parks means that smoking within RV’s themselves can cause secondhand smoke to be experienced by neighbors. It is one thing to have to suffer tobacco smoke as a secondhand smoke recipient- it is another thing to be forced to endure smoke emanating from a schedule two drug.