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

Posted on Thursday October 11, 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-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, condo corporations could address the undesirable consequences of cannabis, such as smoke and odour, by relying on the fact that it is illegal. Now that that cannabis will soon be legal, condo boards are anticipating an increase in friction between condo neighbours.
 
“The legalization of cannabis will likely result in the increased number of smokers in condominium buildings.” said Denise Lash, Lash Condo Law. As a result, boards are wondering what their options are for mitigating complaints, avoiding damage to the building and appeasing the wishes of all owners who may have difference stances on the issue.  
 
Ontario’s Cannabis Act, 2017, dictates that smoking cannabis will be prohibited in any indoor common area in a condominium including hallways, garages, party rooms, exercise areas and lobbies. The Cannabis Act, however, allows for consuming recreational cannabis in private residences including your unit or balcony - depending on your building’s rules.
 
For those living in condominium corporations, your declaration will likely already have restrictions against the creation of nuisance, which include odour and smoke, that would apply to smoking or vaping cannabis. Additionally, some condominiums have bylaws or rules that ban smoking or vaping in individual units or on common property, these policies also apply to smoking or vaping cannabis. “Our non-smoking rules refer to tobacco or ignited cannabis or using a vaping product or any device whose use generates or creates smoke and/or emits an aerosol or vapour.” says Lash.
 
A common concern condo boards have with the new legislation is around growing cannabis plants in units, and the potential mold and humidity damage growers using hydroponic means can cause. The damage can result in loss of property value and make it difficult to resell units. Most buildings will not have a rule or bylaw regulating growing cannabis plants, 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 an amendment of the declaration, which requires support from 80% of the owners, or through the adoption of rules. When implementing new rules, boards must ensure they are reasonable and its purpose be to promote 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.
 
“Based on the concerns about the strong odours from cannabis, the position taken by most if not all condo lawyers is that imposing restrictions on smoking in units is reasonable and can be done by way of a rule,” explains Lash.  
 
Every community is unique. Make sure new rules and 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:
Ontario Cannabis Act, 2017
Ontario Cannabis Legalization
Government of Canada – Cannabis Laws and Regulations
Condominium Authority of Ontario - Condominiums and Recreational Cannabis Legislation
 

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