Canada's Condominium Magazine

Ask the Lawyer: Condo owner worried about legalization of marijuana, if “every household can grow 4 plants… damage could be vast”

Reader Question

“I have one concern that is up coming and both Property Management Corp and the Board of Directors should address: it is the legalization of marijuana. With that, every household can grow 4 plants at home. However, if we allow growth of marijuana in a condo unit, the damage could be vast; affecting residents’ health, safety, mould forming, high consumption of electricity, water…. the list goes on. This will deteriorate value of our investment for sure. How is the industry going to advocate such a concern for condo unit owner? Can each condo corp have the foresight of passing a bylaw quickly to forbid such a horror from occurring. Thanks, M”

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A reader asks lawyer Richard Hoffman how property management companies and condominium boards can cope with the pending legalization of marijuana. Each household (unit) will be able to have four plants. In a condominium, where there are many units, this is a complex management issue due to safety and health concerns.

 

 

Lawyer Richard Hoffman Answers

The proposed Cannabis Act will legalize the possession and growing of limited quantities of marijuana. This may cause great concern to many condo unit owners. A condominium corporation may want to consider passing a rule that will ban the smoking of Marijuana within any common element area(s) whatsoever (including without limitation, any exclusive use outdoor patio, balcony or terrace area), or the growing of any marijuana or cannabis plant(s) whatsoever within the confines of any unit(s) and/or common element area(s).
I don’t think they will be able to ban the smoking of marijuana within dwelling units, as that will prevent those that require Marijuana for medical reasons, and it may lead to a human rights complaint.

 

“I don’t think they will be able to ban the smoking of marijuana within dwelling units, as that will prevent those that require Marijuana for medical reasons, and it may lead to a human rights complaint.”

 

Boards can  pass rules promoting the safety, security or welfare of owners and of the assets of the corporation or rules which prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of common elements and units.
Marijuana will become legal for recreational use in Canada. There are many important issues to be worked out before then.
If there is no rule in place, most corporations have restrictions against the creation of nuisance (which includes odour and smoke) and against the use of a unit in any way which may increase the risk of fire or which may increase insurance premiums. This can be used to combat the owner using Marijuana. An owner can certainly try and argue that the smell of Marijuana is a nuisance and therefore the offending owner must cease.
With respect to the growing of Marijuana, if it can be established that the growing of Marijuana is causing damage to the common elements or the growing process within the unit is creating a fire or other hazard, steps can be taken by the Corporation to seek a court order compelling the owner to cease growing the plants.  

Background on Legalization in Canada

The Liberal government of Canada announced proposed legislation to legalize recreational marijuana use nationally by Canada Day 2018.

Aside from the obvious risk of an unfortunate nickname arising on Saturday Night Live — Cannabis Day instead of Canada Day for our National holiday — there are a number of issues yet to be worked out. Condominium management is certainly one of them.

Access and control may be similar to the LCBO for alcohol, with provinces managing pricing and access. Each household may grow four of their own plants (although access to children will obviously be an issue for many) and up to 30 grams per of-age person.

People will have to be 18 years of age and penalties for selling to anyone younger are promised to be very strict. There are many remaining uncertainties in implementation. Richard Hoffman addressed the legal with with regard to potential health and damage in condominiums.

RICHARD P. HOFFMAN

Richard Hoffman is a member of DelZotto, Zorzi LLP, since 1992, practicing in the area of condominium law.

Richard Hoffman has been a member of DelZotto, Zorzi LLP since 1992, practicing in the area of condominium law. He has represented condominium corporations and unit owners through all stages of the litigation process and at all levels of Ontario Courts (Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court and Court of Appeal). He is well experienced in handling all types of condominium litigation, from applications to enforcing compliance with declarations, by-laws or rules, to handling multi-million dollar claims for budget misrepresentation. He has also advised condominium corporations of various sizes on all facets of condominium law.

Richard is presently a member of the Canadian Condominium Institute and regularly lectures on contract and agency law in the condominium context at Humber College, as well, he is a regular contributor to various condominium magazines and has contributed to the condominium section of the Toronto Star.

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