I am already receiving calls about how sellers, buyers and real estate agents are to prepare for the new Cannabis Act, now scheduled to become law in October. I have booked seminars at real estate boards throughout the GTA over the next few months to explain this in more detail. Here are five things you need to know:
1. How much cannabis can be grown legally in a residence once it becomes legal?
Four cannabis plants may be grown in each residence. This includes apartment or condominium units. Under federal legislation, this could also include an outside garden that is part of a home. The provinces will each determine whether to permit this outside growing.
2. Will there be any standards as to what constitutes “safe” growing of cannabis?
Right now, there do not appear to be any regulations in place. You will undoubtedly see “tool kits” or “indoor tents” being marketed for this purpose, with marketing claiming that this will prevent mould from forming behind the walls, for example. Still, professional electricians will likely be required for this, preparing proper ventilation from the plants to the outside, as additional protection against mould.
3. Should a seller and real estate agent disclose the past existence of cannabis plants on the property once it is legal?
In my opinion this will be an issue, as to whether it can be classified as a material latent defect, which would have to be disclosed. Since mould behind the walls that the seller knows about could satisfy this test, there will likely be litigation when it is not disclosed and problems arise after closing.
4. Can you stop a tenant from smoking cannabis or growing cannabis plants?
Even though it is legal, you can include a clause in a lease to stop any tenant from smoking or growing cannabis on the premises. This should be inserted into every lease. If the tenant then smokes, it will be easier to evict them. While medical cannabis users may raise human rights issues, it is still better to have this clause in the lease right from the start to have a defence.
5. What will condominiums do to stop cannabis from being smoked or grown?
Some condominiums are already passing rules to stop any kind of smoking, whether cigarettes or cannabis and growing of any cannabis plant. Others may set aside an area of the building for users, or just for medical cannabis users. Others may just wait and see and attempt to rely on provisions in condominium law that you cannot commit a nuisance to your neighbours. Then, if the smoking is bothering your neighbours, they can bring action to get you to stop.