For many of us laid-back, live-and-let-live Ontarians, the legalization of marijuana doesn’t appear at first to be much of an issue. We expect our legislators to enact reasonable protections from misuse and to tax the heck out of it, but beyond that, maybe we haven’t even thought about it much. But if you’re running a condo, there are some trickle-down effects that will take some scrutiny.
The law will allow private cultivation of up to four marijuana plants, which has led to the legitimate concern that the heat and moisture required to grow them will lead to damage, and that buildings whose maintenance fees include hydro could see a hike, affecting residents who have no interest in indoor gardening.
Large-scale grow-ops have notoriously destroyed single-family homes. Hundreds of condo boards in Ontario are responding by making bylaws of their own, reports the CBC this week.
One challenge boards are facing is the enforcement of the four-plant limit, but enforcing provincial law has never been the purview of condo boards. Some people are passionate about their pot, and I predict boards are going to run into some problems when those who bought their units with one set of bylaws finding themselves facing another. We may see some of them decided in court.
The effects can be minimized by using a kit to erect a three-by-five tent, complete with energy-efficient light, experts tell the CBC. There are odour-eating gels and air scrubbers with window-vented exhaust tubes that can be used to minimize the smell of the plants. The truly dedicated will probably love them — hobbyists like nothing better than gear. The less hardcore will probably just put a couple of plants in the windowsill.
I think the Ontario Real Estate Board is right in saying that blanket regulations don’t work. They want the province to create guidelines specific to condos, one of which would lower the four-plant limit to one for units with less than a thousand square feet. Sounds like a reasonable solution.
Some boards are going so far as to ban smoking marijuana inside units. This, for me, is a stickier problem. I realize there may be complaints about the smell of smoke, but you’d be hard-pressed to justify telling private citizens what they can do in their own homes to me. Unless you’re prepared to ban cigarettes as well, there’s certainly an element of hypocrisy to it too.
Once legal, people fear that the behaviour we modulate now because of the possible repercussions of getting caught will no longer be a concern, and it’ll be a free-for-all. The hallways will reek of smoke. The neighbours will be dealing…
…But I don’t think that’s going to happen to any great degree. Most of the people who are recreational users now will be still, and most of the people who are considerate neighbours will be still. And most of the people I know can’t even grow a ficus.
We all need to remember that our right to swing our fist ends at the other guy’s face. There will be bumps no doubt, and where common sense fails, application of reasonable laws that protect the other guy’s face will have to do.