The passing of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, has permitted:
- Public possession of no more than 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent for recreational use.
- Consumption and use of cannabis in authorized locations.
- Cultivation of up to 4 cannabis plants per residence.
Provinces and territories are allowed to establish further rules and regulations pertaining to retail and distribution, possession, cultivation, and use of recreational cannabis. In British Columbia, however, the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) does not make amendments to the existing Strata Property Act. Additionally, the provincial government has not imposed further cannabis related restriction on strata councils.
With laws surrounding recreational cannabis constantly evolving, stratas must be ready to tackle any issues appropriately. They are obligated to enforce fair and impartial bylaws that regulate the use and production of cannabis. Stratas may face a human rights complaint, Supreme Court Action, or even a complaint to the Civil Resolutions Tribunal if problems are mishandled.
Therefore, problems that arise require a thorough and objective analysis of the facts coupled with a solid understanding of the law. For instance, stratas must be aware of what exactly constitutes a nuisance or interference. As such, sufficient proof of harm must be provided.
Smoking cannabis is the main concern for strata corporations, especially with complaints of second-hand smoke or odour in the building. However, there are other concerns that stratas must be wary of, including:
- Building damage due to moisture from cultivation, such as mould spores.
- Excessive electricity and water use from cultivation if units are not sub-metered.
- If the strata’s insurer will cover cannabis-related cover claims.
- Increased fire hazards.
What Can Stratas do to Minimize Risk?
Stratas and residents have the power to facilitate smoke-free environments if they pass bylaws or rules to further restrict or even ban smoking. Strata bylaws are passed if they receive a ¾ vote from owners. Note that a bylaw authorizes a ban within the strata lot and common property whereas a rule can only enforce limits on common property.
It is important to keep in mind that even if a strata doesn’t have any bylaws specifically addressing smoking, chances are they will have bylaws ensuring that strata residents and visitors do not inflict risks or interfere with the rights of others. As such, these bylaws can also be used to acknowledge issues such as second-hand smoke.
Bylaws related to cannabis use and cultivation come in various forms depending on the needs presented by the council and residents. Some opt for more flexible restrictions that primarily focus on common areas, whereas others want a complete prohibition. Examples of matters that need to be addressed when deciding the scope of a strata bylaw include:
- Medical versus recreational cannabis use.
- Cannabis use in strata lots versus common property.
- Cultivation and the utilities used for it.
- Inspection for compliance.