Rental Housing Industry Speaks to the Feds About Marijuana Legalization

On September 13, Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations (CFAA) President John Dickie appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, which is considering Bill C-45, the marijuana legalization legislation.

The marijuana legalization issues are moving to the provinces

While the committee recognizes that some tenants will be disturbed by tenants who are smoking or cultivating marijuana in their apartments, it was clear that any solutions to that problem are going to have to come from the provinces.

CFAA made the following points:

  • Smoking marijuana should be banned anywhere that smoking tobacco is banned. In addition, landlords should be able to ban the smoking of tobacco or the smoking of marijuana.
  • In the limited situations where marijuana is legitimately prescribed for medical use, ingested marijuana may offer all of the benefits without any of the negative impact on other tenants.
  • Growing marijuana in multi-unit or rented dwellings is more problematic than marijuana smoking.

Concerns include:

  1. Safety hazards due to electrical overloading, and excess humidity
  2. Interference with other tenants through strong odours
  3. Potential liability for the landlord and risk to the tenants and mortgage holder
  4. Potential cancellation of building insurance or the calling of a mortgage with financially disastrous results for an innocent building owner.

CFAA told the committee that Parliament should amend the Bill to prohibit marijuana growing or processing in multi-unit dwellings, and in rented dwellings of any size.

Failing that, there should be a system which requires the landlord’s consent to the growing.

Current leases do not prohibit marijuana smoking or growing, because it is against the law. The current regime prohibits smoking and growing and landlords will only be able to impose those terms themselves when they enter into new leases with people. Effectively, tenants would be grandfathered to grow and smoke, which would be against the interest of the majority of tenants.

Additional Comments from LandlordBC

The Ontario government has announced they plan to distribute recreational marijuana using their liquor board model.  We are encouraged by the recent comments of BC Premier Horgan suggesting his government is open to including existing operators, and that he doesn’t seem to be interested in a rigid government run framework.  With the Ontario model problems are going to be worse than with tobacco because people are not going to be allowed to smoke pot outside or in pot lounges, forcing them to smoke in their homes (and apartments). As well, with Ontario banning pot shops, people will want to grow their own.

In Quebec, the provincial government apparently intends to ban home growing which is the route we hope BC will go.