Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jan 2018
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2018 The Globe and Mail Company
Page: A10


Major social reforms inevitably hit unforeseen obstacles. Here's yet
one more that looms for the Trudeau government's plan to legalize
cannabis. Several municipal governments in Quebec have served notice
in recent weeks that, when pot becomes legal this summer, they will
enforce strict bylaws that could effectively forbid its consumption by
recreational users.

Under Quebec's proposed pot law, municipal councils will have the
right to ban the smoking of pot in all public places - well beyond the
usual restrictions on tobacco and alcohol. Some towns seem intent on
passing bylaws so strict that the only legal place to smoke weed would
be at home.

At the same time, landlord associations in Quebec are actively
advising members to expand the scope of nonsmoking clauses in leases
to include cannabis.

Given that smoking is by far the most common way to enjoy pot, the
landlords' actions, combined with new bylaws, could mean that some
recreational pot users in Quebec will not be allowed to smoke up
inside or outside their homes. (Medicinal users can smoke wherever
they want.)

The landlords' concerns shouldn't be dismissed as reactionary or
ill-informed. They could well find themselves deluged by complaints
from tenants who don't like the distinctive smell of pot smoke coming
from neighbouring units, and who don't want to risk the possibility of
the smoke getting into their lungs or those of their children.

It's important to remember here that, while cannabis is the most
commonly used illicit drug in Canada, only about one in five Canadians
currently uses it in a given year, based on various estimates and
statistics. That number could grow after legalization, but pot users
are likely to remain a minority of the population.

Landlords in other provinces could consequently also face a backlash
from the majority of their tenants. They may ban cannabis from their
buildings to appease tenants, or as a way of attracting new ones. As
in Quebec, this will clash with the implicit notion that Canadians
should be able to enjoy legal marijuana in the privacy of their homes.

Fully a third of Canadians are renters. Their right to keep pets and
to smoke tobacco in their homes varies from province to province, from
landlord to landlord, and even from unit to unit in some buildings.
For the most part, they are able to find a place to live in as they

With luck, the cannabis issue will settle itself in a similar way,
with some landlords allowing its use and others not, but with enough
rental stock available for recreational pot smokers to be able to
enjoy their new freedoms.

But it will be unfair if, as may happen in Quebec, provincial law,
town bylaws and landlords somehow combine to effectively ban the
reasonable use of cannabis, in any location, for people who happen to
be renters.

Given that other provinces are also planning to grant municipalities
wide latitude to regulate where pot can be used, this could prove to
be a major issue after legalization. Where there's smoke, there's fire.
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MAP posted-by: Matt