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Marsha411JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 20295
Experience:  Licensed Atty, 29 yrs exp in the practice of law.
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Does State Law override Federal law? I live in AZ and was evicted

Customer Question

Does State Law override Federal law? I live in AZ and was evicted from my apartment due to the use and for growing marijuana. My husband is a special forces vet, who was highly decorated, shot three times, stabbed twice, and had physical damage due to a IED going off. Marijuana is the one prescribed drug (he has his card to use and to grow) that eases his pain and allows him to still function. Most drugs they want to give him makes nonfunctional in society. This eviction makes it hard to get an apartment. To add salt to injury the apartment complex has charged us $6883.69 for as they said damage to replace the carpet ( which they did not have time to do before I moved in and I had major asthma issues because of it) and I lived there almost 3 years and for rent for not renting the apartment out. AZ says it is legal the apartments say it is not. Where do we stand?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for the information and your question. To directly answer your first question, Federal law is always controlling over State law if they conflict. However, in some circumstances State law may be more permissive. In this case, if you are talking about landlord tenant issues then, to a great degree State law applies. However, the State law that allows medical marijuana is not without restrictions. Although the statute you cited, which I have set out below, does say that "cardholders" cannot be discriminated against by landlords, unless the landlord would lose money or licensing under Federal law (since marijuana possession and growth is still a Federal crime), that does not mean that the landlord has to allow the use or growth of marijuana in or on their personal property. I realize that this seems like a ridiculous result, but the language of the laws are what apply.

If you look at the FAQ from the Arizona Health Department's website ( ), you will see what situations the medical marijuana program does NOT cover. In that list, it states an owner of private property does not have to allow the use of marijuana on their property. There are also the rules there for growing and the same rules would apply for owners of private property. Again, it is important to understand that under Federal law, the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana is illegal, so property owners can be charged criminally, even if a tenant is in possession, etc., if they know and allow it.

As for the carpet issue, from the facts you shared, it appears that you have a good defense to the charge for damages. If they are suing you, then your defense is that the condition of the carpet was terrible when you moved it and there was nothing more than normal wear and tear. If they have withheld your deposit, they you can file suit in small claims court for the return of your deposit, on the same basis.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.

36-2813. Discrimination prohibited


(Caution: 1998 Prop. 105 applies)


A. No school or landlord may refuse to enroll or lease to and may not otherwise penalize a person solely for his status as a cardholder, unless failing to do so would cause the school or landlord to lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal law or regulations.

B. Unless a failure to do so would cause an employer to lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal law or regulations, an employer may not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination or imposing any term or condition of employment or otherwise penalize a person based upon either:

1. The person's status as a cardholder.

2. A registered qualifying patient's positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless the patient used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment.

C. For the purposes of medical care, including organ transplants, a registered qualifying patient's authorized use of marijuana must be considered the equivalent of the use of any other medication under the direction of a physician and does not constitute the use of an illicit substance or otherwise disqualify a registered qualifying patient from medical care.

D. No person may be denied custody of or visitation or parenting time with a minor, and there is no presumption of neglect or child endangerment for conduct allowed under this chapter, unless the person's behavior creates an unreasonable danger to the safety of the minor as established by clear and convincing evidence.

Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 4 years ago.
Hello again,

I wanted to touch base with you and make sure that you did not have any follow up questions for me from the legal answer I provided to you on the 24th. The Site has been a little buggy lately so the Experts are not always getting replies or ratings that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I received neither. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the Site administrator.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed. You can bookmark my page at:

Thank you.