The Case of Cannabis Legalization in Toronto and the Challenges that Landlords Face

After several years of unending debate, the Senate has finally approved the legalization of cannabis throughout Ontario, Canada. Specifically, this includes the possession and use of cannabis in small amounts for personal use and was effective since October 17, 2018.

Although it could mean good news for cannabis users, the situation for tenants is less clear. What exactly will it mean for them? If you’re a landlord, what are the things you need to know?


The Current State of Cannabis

According to a survey, 85% of landlords expressed their concerns about cannabis’ legalization. Although criminal law is federal, laws that encompass landlord-tenant relationships are provincial-based. That said, each province has its own way of responding to any issues which could arise due to the legalization of cannabis.

This actually became a bit of a problem. As a countermeasure, landlords are enacting their own rules for their properties which aim to balance the new freedom of some Canadians to use cannabis, while still preserving the other tenants’ rights to have a smoke-free space. The thing is, this seems easier said than done.


What Landlords Should Know

As a landlord, it will be essential to know everything there is in this new law. That said, let’s have a look at some of its details:

  • Adults who are 19 years old and above will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis.
  • Cannabis will be distributed and sold throughout Ontario online, but will then spread out through licensed retail dispensaries in the next year.
  • It’s still not legal to possess or use edible products such as lollipops or brownies until fall come
  • It will still be discussed whether the law will allow Toronto residents to grow their own marijuana plants in outdoor gardens.
  • Users who are using medical cannabis for treatment purposes aren’t affected by this legislation.
  • Residents will be allowed to grow up to 4 pot plants. This means four plants within a single-family house.

If you have a new tenancy, you as a landlord should review your standard-form lease and include a no smoking and no cannabis clause. Although the standard-form lease in Ontario permits no-smoking rules in the template, it doesn’t include sample language which you can use. Therefore, you’ll have to specify cannabis as part of your “no smoking” rules. Meanwhile, existing tenancies prohibit landlords to modify or amending their existing leases.

Condominiums, on the other hand, are still subject to the by-laws and standard rules. Corporations may decide to prohibit smoking cannabis by using such rules. There are even some condos which take advantage of these rules and by-laws to ban tobacco smoking as well.

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