What Your Condo Corporation Needs to Know About the Legalization of Recreational Cannabis

Posted on Wednesday October 10, 2018

The Canadian Senate passed Bill C-45, known as the ‘Cannabis Act’, in June 2018 which legalized the recreational use of cannabis across Canada. The first G-7 country to do so! When Bill C-45 goes into effect on October 17th, Canadians will be able to purchase, consume and grow up to four cannabis plants, as well as make cannabis-containing products at home.
 
Until Bill C-45 was passed, condo corporations could address the undesirable consequences of smoking and cultivating, such as odour, by relying on the fact that it is illegal. Now that cannabis will soon be legal, condo boards are anticipating an increase in friction between condo neighbours and are wondering what their options are for mitigating complaints, avoiding damage to the building and appeasing the wishes of all owners who may have different stances on the issue. 
 
Laurie Kiedrowski, partner at McLeod Law LLP, notes that most common concerns condo boards have with the new legislation are mold and humidity damage caused by growers using hydroponic means and second hand smoke.
 
“Often, properties contain common property air handling units that can and will spread the smell of cannabis smoke throughout the entire building if smoking cannabis is permitted and occurs.” says Laurie Kiedrowski. “To many, this is an unpleasant, lingering odour.  When people smoke cannabis - or anything for that matter - outside, the odours will often drift into units that have open windows or doors.” 
 
Alberta Cannabis Framework states that Albertans will be allowed to consume cannabis in their homes and in some public spaces where smoking tobacco is allowed. However, condo-dwellers may be restricted from consuming or growing cannabis in their homes based on rules established in condominium bylaws.
 
The province has not imposed restrictions on condo boards’ ability to enact bylaws and rules restricting the use or cultivation of cannabis. This implies that condo boards are free to enact bylaws and rules that restrict smoking or growing cannabis.
 
“Condo boards can amend their bylaws to prohibit growing or smoking of cannabis anywhere on the property, including within units,” said Laurie Kiedrowski. “Alternatively, they can allow it, but only in certain areas such as on balconies, in the parking lot, or even inside the units.  It depends on the nature of the property and the project, and what the owners want to do.”  
 
Many condominiums already have smoke-free regulations and these will apply to smoking cannabis. However, most buildings will not have existing bylaws regulating growing cannabis, and therefore some boards will be looking to further manage the use and production of cannabis in common areas and individual units. 
 
This can be done through changing or creating a bylaw. This requires support from 75% of people entitled to vote and 75% of total unit factors. A condo corporation should always seek legal advice when drafting or amending its bylaws.
 
“This would be the same as any other bylaw enforcement measure, provided that the bylaws have provisions that may be relied upon to manage cannabis use,” Laurie explains. “You try to speak with the people causing the issues, then perhaps do a formal letter, then start introducing fines or sanctions for repeated offenders, and ultimately you may end up in court obtaining an Order or Judgment on the matter.”
 
Every community in Alberta unique. Make sure bylaws properly reflect the choices of the community by consulting with your residents or conducting a survey. When policies are implemented, be sure to communicate new rules and penalties for violation clearly and as simple as possible to avoid confusion down the road.
 
FirstService Residential assists condo boards all over Alberta in making the best decisions for their communities and effectively implementing new rules and bylaws.
 
Additional resources:
Alberta Cannabis Framework and Legislation
Government of Canada – Cannabis Laws and Regulations


The Condominium Group at McLeod Law is one of the largest in Calgary comprised of a team of lawyers with extensive expertise in the unique field of condominium law.
 

Get the Latest News and Resources

Receive valuable insights and informative resources for your community! Sign up below.