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Tenants mostly free to grow, smoke cannabis

By Zoocasa

Landlords and tenants have many questions for when cannabis becomes fully legal in Canada on October 17, 2018. A lot of confusion still exists over what rights tenants have to smoke and grow cannabis in their own space, and what options landlords have to prevent them.

In short, landlords can forbid tenants to smoke and grow cannabis in both the lease and in the bylaws of a condo building, but otherwise tenants are free to grow up to four plants and smoke cannabis wherever it is allowed to smoke tobacco.

It’s a good idea to think of the tobacco guidelines already in place when trying to figure out the laws surrounding smoking cannabis. Just like tobacco, tenants are obligated to grow and smoke cannabis in a way that doesn’t impair the safety of themselves or others, or substantially interfere with other tenants’ rights of reasonable enjoyment of their unit.

That means that tenants can’t increase the risk of fire by, for example, having grow lamps that would overload a circuit board, or smoke in common areas in a building, like hallways or lobbies.

As long as you follow common sense rules, and try to be aware and respectful of your neighbours (like not blowing smoke in their face, or having strong smells emanate from your apartment) then it should be hard for a landlord to evict you based on these grounds.

Other ways of feeling the effects of cannabis, such as oils or edibles, are generally allowed even when smoking isn’t as they are highly unlikely to impact any neighbours.

As it stands, Ontario tenants have same cannabis rights as owners, across condos and freehold properties. That means that the same cannabis rules apply regardless if a unit or house is owner-occupied.

Still, laws vary across each province and type of dwelling has different laws around cannabis, so it’s important to pay attention to your particular district.  

Landlords of high-demand Vancouver real estate, for example, are still fighting to include a ban on cannabis in leases.  And those looking at listings of condos for sale in downtown Toronto  should be sure to check the bylaws of each building, as hundreds of condos boards, concerned about mould, allergies and the special concerns that comes with high-density living,  have successfully banned smoking (except in the cases of a medical prescription).

Since these laws are so new,  (and not even in effect) they are likely to be tested in the Ontario Landlord and Tenant board over the next few years, as the true consequences of the legislation reveals itself. It’s almost certain the laws will be clarify and refined  as the province evaluates the effect of cannabis on landlord and tenants.

In the meantime, tenants should make sure to research each jurisdiction and the bylaws of any non-freehold property to avoid running into problems.

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