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July 18, 2018

A look at condo pot smoking bans ahead of legalization


Gerald Major goes out on the back balcony of his condo several times a day, leaning against the wall and smoking or vaping medicinal cannabis to ease the pain and other symptoms of severe arthritis.

But the looming legalization of recreational marijuana may put his daily ritual in jeopardy, as condominium corporations and apartment buildings across the country scramble to enact rules that would ban pot smoking inside units, on balconies and in common areas used by residents.

“I don’t use inside my dwelling, I have a seven-year-old. I don’t think it’s healthy, nor is it necessary,” said Major, 46, who has had eight surgeries in the last eight years related to ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, which he began developing at age 14.

“So I discreetly go about my business and try to respect everyone around,” he said. “The solution I have right now is fine because all the vape goes away from anyone and it’s not going in anyone’s windows.”

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Major and his family moved into the Oakville, Ont., condo about five years ago, a couple of years after his medical condition forced him to give up his job running hedge-fund services for a major North American bank.

Although there’s been no such notice circulated to residents, Major is worried what he would do if his condo corporation and the building’s board of directors decide to outlaw pot smoking and vaping on the property in the run-up to Oct. 17, when toking recreational cannabis becomes legal.

“If it does go that way, then my board will certainly take the most conservative approach. And then, I guess I’ll be looking for another place to live.”

Toronto condo lawyer Denise Lash said her firm has been kept hopping by clients putting new rules in place for their buildings before cannabis is decriminalized, often resulting in some residents objecting to the changes. Social media has been rife with complaints about condo boards being high-handed in banning weed.

Lash said that over the past few years, many condo corporations were focused on dealing with tobacco use within units and in common areas of their properties.

“So now that we have marijuana that’s going to be legalized, there’s a real concern that there’s going to be more (pot) smokers,” she said, noting that the pungent fumes from a joint can permeate nearby condo units, which non-using residents could argue is not only a nuisance but also a health risk.

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