November 22, 2018
The federal government legalized non-medical cannabis on October 17, 2018 through Bill C-54, the Cannabis Act.
This created a corresponding need for the BC government to establish cannabis-related laws and regulations through the newly passed Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) which governs the possession, use, and cultivation of recreational cannabis.
1. The CCLA authorizes adults (age 19 and older) to grow up to four cannabis plants per household for personal use as long as the plants aren’t visible from public spaces off the property.
2. The CCLA, for landlords, prohibits cannabis smoking under existing leases that prohibit smoking tobacco, by amending the BC Residential Tenancy Act. If a residential tenancy agreement entered into before October 17, 2018 prohibits or limits smoking tobacco, and doesn’t expressly permit smoking cannabis, then the agreement is deemed to include a term that prohibits or limits smoking cannabis in the same way smoking tobacco is prohibited or limited.
3. The CCLA prohibits personal cultivation of cannabis under existing leases, except for federally authorized medical cannabis.
4. The CCLA establishes, for new leases entered into after October 17, 2018, that the lease must expressly state whether growing or smoking cannabis is prohibited or limited. If a lease doesn’t state this, landlords and tenants may negotiate terms regarding growing and smoking of cannabis.
5. For strata councils, the CCLA doesn’t make amendments to the Strata Property Act. The provincial government also hasn’t imposed cannabis restrictions on strata councils, which can enact bylaws and rules restricting smoking or growing cannabis.
6. Growing a limited amount of cannabis for health reasons is legal under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes regulations (which accompany Bill C-45) and isn’t contrary to tenancy agreements or strata bylaws. Anyone growing federally authorized medical cannabis should follow federal guidelines. Landlords or strata councils which try to restrict use of medical cannabis may be violating the BC Human Rights Code and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At the same time, there may be existing obligations to other tenants, including provisions for the quiet use and enjoyment of property.
7. The CCLA permits municipal councils to set their own restrictions.
8. Insurers of residential properties may have clauses in their policies specifying that they won’t insure homes used for cannabis production. There have been cases where landlords didn’t permit cannabis growing, and didn’t know a tenant was growing cannabis, but were still denied an insurance claim.
9. All cannabis retail stores require a provincial license to operate. This is regulated and enforced by the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulations Branch under CCLA.