Toronto Condo Corporations Are Already Banning Residents From Growing Cannabis

15 October 2018
Joshua Chisvin

When cannabis gets legalized in a couple days — finally, for some, who have been awaiting this moment in time for as long as they can remember — Ontarians will be able to grow up to four plants per household.

Except, perhaps, if you live in a condo.

That's because, across Toronto, dozens and dozens of condo boards — hundreds, even — have already banned residents from smoking and growing cannabis within their individual units and on balconies.

In short, condo boards have enacted these new rules over concerns of the quote-unquote pungent smell and potential mould that could form as a result of cannabis cultivation.

Yes, even though home growing is perfectly legal under the Cannabis Act, condo corporations are allowed to create their own rules that prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoying of an owner’s unit and common elements, such as a balcony.

To be clear, it’s really not all that relevant whether or not the activity is legal. There are untold activities that are legal that condo corporations may have a rule against.

For example, displaying advertising signs in your windows or having shaded window coverings of a certain colour is legal, though it may be against the rules of your corporation.

The exception, in case you were interested, is if someone needs to grow cannabis for medical purposes.

In that case, under the Human Rights Code, the condo board would have to accommodate those residents on a case-by-case basis.

Exhibit Residences, a luxury condo near Bloor and Avenue, passed a new rule prohibiting smoking and growing cannabis at the end of September.

The head of the condo board claimed although the board hadn’t received any complaints from residents about the smell of cannabis, they wanted to get ahead of legalization to prevent any potential issues in the future.

Makes sense, if you look at it from their perspective.

After all, boards like Exhibit's have rushed to enact new rules prior to legalization to avoid grandfathering, which is when a person who engaged in a legal activity prior to a new rule change would be entitled to continue engaging in the now-prohibited activity.

In other words, if a resident had already started growing cannabis after October 17 — the official legalization date — but prior to a new rule being enacted, they’d be exempt.

Incidentally, although the federal Cannabis Act permits home growing, Manitoba and Quebec have banned home cultivation altogether. 

What's more, some Canadian cities, such as Whistler, have created specific rules stipulating plants must not be visible to the public.

Nope, no such rules exist in Toronto, and since many Torontonians reside in high rises without access to backyards, indoor growing is likely their only option.

To that end, many condo boards are surprisingly unaware that smell-proof planters exist.

Take Grobo, which is sealed to reduce smell and use carbon filters to scrub the air and remove odours.

At the legal limit of growing four plants, you won’t have any mould issues. It’s the same impact as having any four houseplants in your home.

Because of Grobo’s small footprint — it’s about the size of a water cooler — many of their customers live in condos or apartments, and they use it to grow cannabis for either medicinal or recreational purposes.

That said, even though these growing systems sound impressive, if a condo corporation were to allow specific indoor planters — such as Grobo — it would be too labour intensive for the condo board or management to regulate usage and control what types of planters are permitted.  

When you start getting into the minutia, it gets complicated very quickly, and so that’s why Grobo did not go down that route.

According to the company, they didn't want to be Orwellian or turn it into a police state.

They maintain people have a right to their privacy in their home, as long as it doesn’t disturb someone else.

That’s the good neighbour approach, at least.

SOURCE: NOW Magazine

  Real Estate