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    Have Toronto Condos Gone Up in Smoke? A Look at Smoking Cannabis in Condos

    How to navigate the new marijuana legislation as either a staunch non-marijuana user or someone who enjoys the new (condo) high life.

    Written By Nathaniel Hartree-Hallifax

    While your neighbours probably aren’t exactly Cheech and Chong or Snoop Dogg — getting high has hit new heights in Toronto real estate… smoking cannabis in condos.

    Since October’s country-wide legalization of marijuana, many condo owners and dwellers are concerned with pot smoke permeating their corridors and apartments. In this article we’ll look at the pros and cons side of it, how condo boards are dealing with the new marijuana legislation, and how to navigate it as either a staunch non-marijuana user or someone who enjoys the new (condo) high life.

    The Argument FOR Smoking Pot in Condos

    For those in favour of smoking cannabis in condos it is a legal and rights issue. If something is legal in your country and city then you should not be barred from being able to do so in the comfort and safety of your own home, from being discriminated in terms of renting or purchasing a home, or from being able to produce the amount of product you need and are legally allowed to produce. It’s legal, and it’s your own home.

    In terms of growing, if people can create an in-condo vertical garden for things like herbs (the other kind), tomatoes and plants — why can’t they grow the plant of their choice?

    It is too early to tell how easy it will be for condo boards to ban smoking cannabis in condos (although an 80% vote could prove challenging), and how many condos will do so.

    With the legalization of smoking, consuming and growing (up to four plants per household) in October 2018 many defend their newly engrained rights. It shouldn’t buzz anybody if you want to get a little buzzed.

    The Argument AGAINST Smoking Pot in Condos

    While some are arguing against smoking weed in condos on moral grounds (a tough standpoint due to the legalization), others are concerned on other grounds. Why should they be subject to the smell and effects if they don’t want to be participants to it? Will it affect the sale price or rentability of their investment? Will condo boards retrofit buildings to decrease the permeability of cannabis smoke to improve the air and scent quality of those not looking to partake?

    Many are concerned that like many houses on the market, condos could become grow-ops when people exceed the legal growth amount. The mould damage caused by illegal grow-ops can exceed tens of thousands of dollars in homes, but in condos this could potentially infect neighbouring units.

    The argument about property value is important, since according to a ZooCasa survey, “over half of homeowners – 57% – felt that growing even the legal amount of cannabis would have a negative impact on a home’s value.” That survey also states that 52% of people are stigmatized, and would look adversely on purchasing a home that had grown even legal amounts of marijuana. About 15% of survey respondents indicated they would consider growing marijuana in their property.

    How Condo Boards are Prepping for the Marijuana Infusion

    Most condo boards are scrambling to come up with a plan to deal with the increase of smoking cannabis in condos. The challenge comes in being able to regulate it within their (often slow-moving) rubric of rules and processes.

    The most common solutions being drummed up are to:

    1. Change the Rules entirely — which would require a very proactive board.

    2. Amend the Declaration — which would require an 80%+ majority vote to prohibit the smoking of cannabis in condos or on the property and would likely be tied to cigarette smoking.

    3. Not deal with it — which would leave people up to the mercy of existing rules and would address concerns individually as it came to complaints of damages and inconvenience.

    If a condo board opts for number three above, it will leave neighbours to deal with each other. In the best case scenario people will be very ‘Canadian’ about it and be as nice as possible to accommodate others. In the worst case scenario, battles will broil in condo board meditations. Those friendly neighbours looking to minimize the impact have a number of options to reduce the smell of the marijuana they smoke.

    “All the research shows alcohol is actually more harmful than smoking marijuana. So I’d personally write this off as a non-issue. However I suspect some people, particularly parents with young children, may have a problem with this” says Robert Van Rhijn, owner of Strata.ca. “Some condos are beginning to ban smoking altogether — tobacco and marijuana. I think the subject of smoking pot in condos will make an outright smoking ban more of a trend."

    What YOU Can Do:

    If you’re one of the 61% of Canadians who are firmly against smoking cannabis in condos, or part of the 21% who are for it — what can you do to protect yourself?

    If you’re looking to [buy a condo][4] now or in the near future you can ask for their board’s regulations and examine their specific stance on cannabis smoking. If it doesn’t fit your ideals — move on. Trying to move in and change an existing rule is like David fighting a high Goliath. It’s not worth the hassle.

    If you’re a current owner in a condo building wondering where your fate is destined to, you have a voice. However it’s only one voice. If there is no grandfathered-in regulation about not smoking then you’ll generally require an 80%+ majority to change the rules. However, considering that less than 80% of people are avidly against it, this might be tough. Unless the pro-smoking-pot people in your condo fail to get organized (which let’s face it, is a very real possibility…although no guarantee), you will be in for a fight.

    Should you fail to receive a majority vote there are retrofits to your unit that you or the condo itself could do to minimize the migration of smoke from one unit to another, such as additional caulking, filters, etc. If your building has a non-smoking provision, it is possible that the smokers will be required to solve smoke penetration issues (at their own cost).

    Options for Pot Smokers:

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    If your building has gone — or will be going smoke free, you have to just eat that decision. Literally. Edibles are a rapidly growing market! If smoking pot in your building is causing you the distress that makes you want to turn off reality for a moment with a little green TLC, you have the option of edibles, which can make everyone happy…including you.

    There have been cases where condos look to ban all marijuana products including edibles, however that would be a slippery slope; if all marijuana, why not alcohol or anything else ill-fitted to the healthiest lifestyle.

    Conclusion

    Oh Canada — we’re in trouble. We’re entering a foggy (if not smoky) era where rules are unclear and people be tripping. And results are, well, hazy.

    It is too early to tell how easy it will be for condo boards to ban smoking cannabis in condos (although an 80% vote could prove challenging), and how many condos will do so. It is also hard to say how smoking and growing will affect condo values. Currently it is a case-by-case assessment. If you feel strongly one way or another and are looking to purchase a condo, contact us — we can offer you some advice on what to look for in terms of regulations about specific buildings and overall how to broach the subject.

    Starting your search for a new home? Click on any of these links to access active listings, sold listings or contact a Strata agent.

    For any questions about this article or media inquires, please email media@strata.ca