Saskatchewan condo boards moving to ban marijuana as legislation looms

It’s a big question looming for condo boards across the country. Will they permit the use of recreational marijuana on building property, or ban it outright ahead of its legalization on Oct 17.

With less than three months to spare, a variety of Saskatoon condo boards have already began formulating their so-called “pot plans.”  Diana Robstad sits on one of them and said after endless hours of reading and meeting, the vote is now in the hands of unit owners.  “We might speculate that it won’t go through because we already have a no-smoking bylaw so it’s just the no growing that they’ll be voting on but we don’t know – it’s all new.”

To help navigate boards through their issues, real estate attorneys like Jamie Herle have been busy.  “That is probably the busiest area of my practice and I’m meeting with condo boards at least twice a week,” said Herle, with WMCZ Lawyers of Saskatoon.  Her entire month of September is booked solid with information nights at condominiums.  “You have to look at all the pieces and say, ‘are we truly trying to ban because we’re scared of what marijuana presents’ or ‘are we actually doing it for a reason?’” Herle added.

The most common concerns are shared air exchange, odour transfer, increased risk of fire hazards as well as the humidity, water and wattage needed for the plants to survive.  “Because we all share the same water bill based on our unit factors and now if I’m paying for someone else to grow marijuana unless you’re inviting me in to partake, it’s not really fair, right?” explained Herle.

Herle also noted that all property, except the units themselves, are considered common property like lobbies, parking spots, elevators, and hallways.  Owners might be granted exclusive use and enjoyment of part of the common property like patios, fenced backyards or balconies which means sparking up outside may not be permitted.

Herle added that when it comes to brand new condos it’s the developer that would decide whether to clamp down on cannabis, but for existing condos it would be the owners.

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