Medical Marijuana – Implications for Condo Dwellers

December 2016

With the use of medical marijuana expected to increase condo corporations should give consideration as to how its use can harm, endanger or inconvenience condo residents.

Use and growing of medical marijuana presents dangers for condo corporations and owners that need to be considered.

Marijuana growing requires water, heat and intense light. It creates increased risk of fire and mould. Smoke and offensive odours can migrate to common areas or other suites in a building.

One Toronto condo corporation noticed a spike in water use after a new owner moved in. The owner was legally producing marijuana for medical purposes and had one hundred plants under cultivation. At first the corporation suspected a water leak but found nothing.

They eventually found an electrical upgrade in the owner’s suite that lead to discovery of the “grow op”. Installation of a water meter for the suite confirmed it was the source of excessive water use. The owner was subsequently required to reimburse the condo corporation nearly $20,000 and required to pay for future water use.

The intent of condo fees is to apportion common expenses among unit owners as close as possible to the percentage of use made by each unit owner. Excessive usage by one owner should be the responsibility of that owner and not included in common expenses. It was for this reason that the condo corporation was reimbursed for the excessive water use.

There is a health risk in that second-hand smoke contains toxins.

Marijuana is a desirable target for burglars.

Condo corporations have a number of options for protecting property and residents:

  • Prohibit use and growing of marijuana in condo buildings.
  •  Prohibit all tobacco products in condo buildings inclusive of marijuana.
  • Adjust condo fees so that users of medical marijuana, and possibly smokers, pay a premium. This could compensate for higher utility use plus increased safety, security and structural measures necessary for protecting against identifiable risks of  medical marijuana, tobacco and tobacco-type products.
  • Install individual suite water meters where a legal “grow op” exists and charge for additional water use beyond average suite use.
  • Require users of medical marijuana to install a smoke filtration system to protect against odours or smoke migrating beyond the suite.

Health Canada lists 14 licensed producers of medical marijuana in Ontario.