News / Calgary

Condo boards will face uphill battle in banning marijuana plants

Three-quarters of unit owners must agree to bylaw changes, says lawyer

Growing cannabis will be legal as long as the plants are kept inside a home or greenhouse, according to the provincial government.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Growing cannabis will be legal as long as the plants are kept inside a home or greenhouse, according to the provincial government.

So you're thumb isn't exactly green, but with laws around cannabis changing, you've been giving some thought to growing some plants (when it's legal, of course).

The government has indicated homeowners will be allowed to grow up to four plants inside their home, but what about all you condo dwellers?

One Calgary lawyer believes that condo boards will have an incredibly difficult time banning pot plants in their building.

"Unless there is something specific in the condo bylaws – there's no restriction on doing it," said Chris Kasper, barrister and solicitor.

Speaking to reporters after rolling out the province's legal framework for marijuana legalization, Alberta Minister of Justice Kathleen Ganley said she was fairly certain condos would be able to prohibit growing plants in a building through the condo bylaws.

Kasper said technically it's possible, but it will be difficult in most buildings because condo boards require 75 per cent approval for bylaw changes.

"Do you think in the modern liberal world that you're going to get 75 per cent against growing four plants?" asked Kasper. "I don't think so. That's equivalent to saying, you can't have any more than four bottles of wine in your house."

Kasper said condo owners who rent out their units would be able to put conditions about not growing pot plants in the lease, just as they can for pets.

Gerry Baxter, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association (CRRA), said landlords in the city are worried about what could happen to their properties once cannabis is legal.

"The main concern is people being able to grow it and the potential damage that may be done because of it," said Baxter.

He cited horror stories of properties damaged by mold and humidity from large scale operations, and said it is difficult to get insurance that covers that sort of damage.

The CRRA is planning a seminar for its members in December titled 'Preparing Landlords for the Legalization of Cannabis.'

Baxter said it will feature a lawyer and one of the co-founders of the Canadian Cannabis Chamber of Commerce.

"We're hoping that will provide information as to what they should be worried about, what they should prepare for," he said.

Smoking cannabis in multi-unit complexes will be off limits for the most part. Ganley told reporters that the same rules that apply to smoking tobacco will automatically apply to cannabis as well.

"One of the main factors that went into our decision to allow consumption in public is that these people who live in condo buildings and apartment buildings will not have a private place to consume," said Ganley.

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