Property ownership has its benefits. You don’t only get equity. You get the pride, satisfaction and stress that comes with a mortgage—and you get the right to consume marijuana without the threat of eviction. One of marijuana legalization’s many paradoxes is the question of where it can be consumed. The list of acceptable cannabis consumption areas is slimmer than you think—and in many places and in many cases, that list does not include your house. Especially if you rent. If you do rent your home, it may be the case that your landlord doesn’t want you smoking marijuana.
Can Landlords Ban Smoking?
In California, property owners have the right to ban “smoking” of any kind, a blanket prohibition that does indeed include cannabis. Better check your lease to see what rights you signed away.
Up in Canada, where nationwide legalization of recreational cannabis is coming, landlords want the same power over pot, with one extra wrinkle: They want to be able to retroactively change tenants’ leases to add a ban on cannabis. Currently, medical-marijuana consumption is allowed in Ontario—Canada’s most populous province and home to its biggest cities—wherever it’s also OK to smoke a cigarette. The same rights won’t be extended to recreational marijuana.
As in California, Colorado, Nevada, and every other place where adult-use cannabis is legal in the U.S., there’s a ban on public consumption. The only place for residents of Toronto, Ottawa and Mississauga to legally use cannabis will be private residences.
The way property-owners advocates see it, the rules mean that cannabis consumers will have no choice but to turn their studio apartments into de-facto smoking lounges, thereby hotboxing their unsuspecting and unwilling neighbors with them.
“(The province is) not going to allow marijuana to be smoked in public areas, so where the heck are people going to smoke marijuana? Well, they’re going to do it in their apartments,” said John Dickle, president of the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations, in comments to CTV News.
“The problem is, just like when they smoke tobacco, the smell goes to neighboring apartments,” he added.
And according to the president of a major Toronto property-management firm, removing “the smell of marijuana smoke” from “apartment walls and floors” can cost as much as $6,000.
Final Hit: Why Your Landlord Doesn’t Want You Smoking Marijuana
Unlike in the States, where there are plenty of marijuana-unfriendly laws on the books even where cannabis is legal, it appears Canadian law isn’t clear-cut on smoking bans. If a lease doesn’t explicitly mention smoking, it’s not banned.
And Canada’s new legalization laws don’t mention what renters can and can’t do at all. Further, current Ontario property laws forbid unilateral, retroactive changes to a lease. If Canadian landlords want their properties to be cannabis-free, they’ll have to somehow convince lawmakers that property owners’ rights outweigh those of renters.