Condo towers are seen under construction in an aerial view, in Richmond, B.C., on Wednesday May 16, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Condo boards should set out rules before cannabis legalization: lawyers

Homeowners groups need to quickly establish rules for marijuana growing and consumption in an effort to nip any problems in the bud, say lawyers who specialize in property law.

Homeowner groups need to quickly establish rules for marijuana growing and consumption in an effort to nip any problems in the bud, say lawyers who specialize in property law.

Robert Noce, a partner with Miller Thomson LLP in Edmonton, said the most common troubles in condominium, townhouse and other mixed-use properties will likely be the smell of smoke and potential mould from growing cannabis.

“I suggest that you have an absolute prohibition of smoking and/or vaping in the units and on property, together with an absolute prohibition on the growing of marijuana in the units,” Noce said.

A majority of condo boards, he said, have been amending their bylaws ahead of Oct. 17 when recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada.

Different provinces have different rules for smoking, and growing cannabis plants at home for personal use.

In British Columbia, almost all condos already prohibit smoking of cigarettes, said Tony Gioventu, executive director Condominium Home Owners’ Association of British Columbia.

“So smoking or cultivation with marijuana is an easy modification for most buildings.”

He said the same rules that are applied to cigarettes can be applied to marijuana, adding that a “vast majority” of condos will adopt bylaws that prohibit growing and smoking cannabis in their private homes.

“B.C. is quite far ahead with lifestyle bylaws,” he said.

Local laws in Alberta are to be followed for cannabis consumption, and growing cannabis is limited to four plants depending on restrictions from landlords.

In Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Northwest Territories smoking will be allowed on private property and in private residences, but landlords can restrict cultivation and smoking.

Related: WestJet bans some staff from off-duty cannabis use

Related: B.C. business makes a mint on cannabis extraction equipment

In Prince Edward Island cannabis use will be restricted to private homes. In Quebec, marijuana can be smoked where cigarette smoking is permitted.

Rodrigue Escayola, a partner with the law firm Gowling WLG in Ottawa, pointed out that while the federal government is responsible for legalization, it’s been left to provinces, municipalities and condo boards to make their own rules.

A majority of condo owners in Ontario want their boards to regulate marijuana use and growth, Escayola said.

“They want some certainty and they want to know that they will be protected against nuisance.”

He said condos, generally speaking, are moving towards a smoke-free environment, and legalization of cannabis is simply accelerating that.

The challenge for homeowner groups is balancing the greater common good with property rights, he said.

“We say that someone is the king or queen of their homes and when you’re in your home you can do as you please,” Escayola said.

“This is a very strongly rooted principle in law,” he said. ”A person’s home is their castle. In a condo complex, the castles are so close to each other. This is what the struggle is.”

Escayola said condo owners might ask what’s the difference between growing cannabis or tomatoes and question why strict rules are needed.

Marijuana plants require a lot more water, heat and light, which are drawn from the common grid, so everyone’s utilities are affected, he said.

Spores cling to drywall and plants are usually grown to harvest, dry and smoke, which increases the risk of fire, Escayola added.

But all rules should be reasonable and medical marijuana should be accommodated, he said.

People using medicinal cannabis need to be able to explain to their condo boards why they need to smoke rather than consume edibles or oil, and also why they need to smoke inside their units.

“At some point it will have to be determined whether or not it is discriminatory to prevent smoking when there are so many options out there.”

Escayola said the longer condo boards wait to establish rules, the more accommodations they are likely to have to make.

“Put your best foot forward first always. You can undo a rule later.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan RCMP look for owners of various keys located during arrest

RCMP seek to reunite the owners of various keys found at the arrest of suspects in a stolen vehicle.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

BC Green already planning Princeton expansion

Company purchases ore land in industrial park

Don’t be dazed and confused about cannabis legalization

Sitting down with an Okanagan lawyer to clear the haze of marijuana rules

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

VOTE: Nature in Focus reader’s choice photo contest

The Penticton Western News Reader’s Choice photo contest

MCFD, FPSSS restricts caregivers from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care

Ministry restricts cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Baby boomer buba shares heartfelt novel with Okanagan audience

Pauline Daniel will be at Vernon’s Bookland and library Oct. 20

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

Most Read