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

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-C45 goes into effect on October 17th, Canadians will be able to purchase, consume and grow cannabis as well as make cannabis-containing products at home, such as food and drinks.
 
Until Bill-C45 was passed, strata corporations could address the undesirable consequences of consumption, such as odour, by relying on the fact that it is illegal. Now that that cannabis will soon be legal, strata councils are anticipating an increase in friction between strata 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.
 
“The biggest concerns councils I work with have are second hand marijuana smoke, the pungent smell and its impact on residents, as well as the potential for mold arising from badly run grow operations for four plants,” says Veronica Franco, strata lawyer at Clark Wilson LLP.
 
For those living in stratas, there are already bylaws built into provincial legislation that ban the creation of nuisance, which include odour and smoke, that would cover smoking or vaping cannabis. Additionally, under BC’s Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA), smoking or vaping are prohibited in common areas and a buffer zone around windows and doors leading to common areas and air intakes.
 
Strata corporations can set rules for smoking and growing recreational cannabis through strata bylaws. “Councils can adopt bylaws to ban smoking, vaping and growing of cannabis. However, they will have to remember that despite any bylaw, the strata corporation does have a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship under human rights legislation,” explains Franco.
 
“They can adopt bylaws that ban smoking or vaping inside a strata lot or on balconies, patios or decks or both. Alternatively, the strata corporation could designate an outdoor “smoking” pit, by bylaw and ¾ vote resolution, if they did want to allow for a place to smoke.”
 
Every community is unique. Make sure new bylaws properly reflect the choices of the community by consulting with your residents or conduct a survey. If your community decides to implement a new rule, be sure to communicate new rules and penalties for violation clearly and as simple as possible to residents to avoid confusion down the road.

FirstService Residential can help your board make the best decisions for your community and effectively implement changes in policies.  
 
Additional Resources:
Cannabis Control and Licensing Act
Government of Canada – Cannabis Laws and Regulations