Real Estate & Property Law

Did one marijuana joint make legal assistant's home a 'drug-related nuisance'? This AG thought so

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An assistant at a law firm faced eviction after the Washington, D.C., attorney general wrote her landlord and said the home was a “drug-related nuisance”—an allegation stemming from the seizure of three suspicious cigarettes from her home.

Rajuawn Middleton moved out of the home, the Washington Post reports. She is among three dozen people ensnared for misdemeanor marijuana possession, or no crime at all, by a 1999 law that gives city officials the power to sue property owners for ongoing criminal activity.

Property owners who get the letters deeming their property a drug-related nuisance are told if they don’t fix the issue in two weeks they may face damages or may lose their property. Landlords often respond by evicting the tenant accused of creating the nuisance.

Middleton says only one of the cigarettes seized from her home contained marijuana. Police discovered it when they raided her home after arresting her adult son in March 2014 for possessing a handgun. Police raided Middleton’s home in a search for guns, even though the son had not lived with Middleton for years, according to the story. No charges were brought, and the son was later found not guilty of gun charges.

In another case, a grandmother was forced out of her home by a property company after one gram of marijuana was found in her home. That is a legal amount of the drug in Washington, D.C., the Post story says.

After the Post presented the Attorney General’s office with its findings, it declared a moratorium on the nuisance abatement letters, which had been issued as a result of referrals from police. The Attorney General’s office is supposed to review the referrals to determine which cases merit nuisance status, but the office acknowledges it didn’t do an adequate job.

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