When marijuana is legal, can I grow it (and smoke it) in my condo?

June 15, 2017
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The Canadian federal government plans to introduce legislation to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes and the growing of small quantities of plants for personal use. While this legislation will remove the criminal penalties for these activities [Ed note: sort of], people living in condominium units who wish to grow or smoke marijuana in their units will have to consider how the governing rules for their individual condominium corporations might apply to restrict these activities.

For people who wish to grow marijuana plants in their condominium units, there are several considerations that might come into play. One of these is humidity. As anyone who has ever spent time in a greenhouse can attest, the presence of plants can create significant humidity in an enclosed space. That humidity can cause additional strain on HVAC systems, condensation on windows (which can then pool and cause water damage to walls and floors), and even mould. For this reason, many condominium buildings have restrictions on the number of plants that can be kept in a unit, and a few buildings prohibit plants (other than small potted plants, or plants that are kept outside) entirely.

Marijuana plants also require water. Many condominium buildings pay for water on a building-wide basis, and the unit owners are charged for their proportionate share of building-wide water consumption through their maintenance fees rather than being individually metered. This means that, if one unit consumes a disproportionately high amount of water, there may be an unfair cost to the other unit owners. To address this, the corporation may be able to claim the cost of the extra water consumption from the unit owner. This was the case in Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corp. No. 659 v. Truman, where the owner of a commercial unit was using same to legally grow marijuana (albeit 100 plants, not four), and was using a significant amount of water to do so. The corporation was successful in claiming approximately $19,000 for two years’ worth of extra water consumption from the owner. While (up to) four plants would not appear to require a significant amount of water, the potential for extra water consumption should nevertheless be considered.

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