Real Estate

Condo boards should avoid knee-jerk blanket ban on marijuana: Sa'd

By Staff

Condo corporations must account for medical users of cannabis, even if they have banned smoking in their buildings, Toronto landlord/tenant lawyer Caryma Sa’d tells

Sa’d, founder and principal of SADVOCACY Professional Corporation, says corporations can pass bylaws banning the smoking of cannabis — now legal for recreational use — in much the same way as they can prohibit tobacco use.

However, she says any rules involving cannabis must account for medical users, who need to be accommodated to the point of undue hardship under the province’s Human Rights Code.

“Condo corporations cannot outright limit a person’s ability to grow or consume medicine,” says Sa’d. "To my mind, that would constitute potential discrimination on the basis of disability, a protected ground under the Code."

Still, there is an onus on the medical user not to act in a way that may cause damage to the building or disturb other residents, says Sa’d, who suggests the parties sit down to negotiate a reasonable exemption to blanket cannabis bans.

“Some parameters should be set about the method of consumption under which both parties can operate,” she says.

For example, Sa’d says simple solutions could involve a patient agreeing only to vape, use a filter or smoke with the window open. Other, more-complex options include modifications to ventilation or electrical systems.

According to a recent CBC report, many condos were silent on recreational cannabis use prior to legalization. However, the news outlet says many boards rushed to impose bans ahead of the recent changes.

One property manager told the CBC that many condos favour bans because it's impossible to prevent smoke from migrating from unit to unit.

“You can never wrap it in Saran Wrap, per se,” he said. "Even someone going out onto their balcony, the smoke can make its way into an adjoining unit.”

In addition to cannabis use, Sa’d says condo boards will have to consider their stance on the cultivation of the drug. The new law allows recreational users to legally grow up to four plants per household, while medicinal users can grow more.

That may prompt condo corporation concerns about utility use, water damage or mould due to humidity, Sa’d says.

“Instead of a knee-jerk blanket ban, the sensible approach is to set some guidelines that can be adhered to with minimal interference to everyone’s rights,” she says. “If a reasonable arrangement can’t be agreed upon between the parties, then it’s possible the issue will have to be litigated.”

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