* This is a translation of “A snapshot of the new cannabis laws” published in November 2018, produced in English by CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario). Japanese Social Services is wholly responsible for the accuracy of this translation, produced with permission of CLEO.
A snapshot of the new cannabis laws
Recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018. But cannabis is still highly regulated and many activities involving it remain against the law.
This month’s On the Radar looks at some of the new federal and provincial laws about recreational cannabis that apply within Ontario, with a focus on criminal law and tenants’ rights.
The new laws don’t change the rules about medical cannabis.
Buying, growing, and selling cannabis in Ontario
In Ontario you must be 19 or older to buy, possess, use, and grow cannabis.
For now, cannabis for recreational use can only be bought from the online Ontario Cannabis Store. And people can buy only 30 grams or less of dried cannabis at one time.
The government has said that licensed retail stores will be able to sell cannabis starting April 1, 2019.
It’s now also legal to grow cannabis at home. But there can be no more than 4 plants per household and those plants must be grown using seeds from the Ontario Cannabis Store.
Giving someone cannabis for free
If someone is 19 or older, they can give up to 30 grams of dried cannabis to someone else who’s 19 or older for free. But they must they have grown it legally or purchased it from the Ontario Cannabis Store.
Possessing and using cannabis
It’s illegal to possess more than 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent in public.
It’s also illegal to possess any cannabis that you know was not:
- purchased through the Ontario Cannabis Store, or
- grown legally for personal use.
The laws about where people can and can’t use cannabis are very complicated. For example, people can’t use cannabis:
- at work
- in certain public places, for example playgrounds
- while they’re driving a vehicle, including a motorcycle, car, truck, or boat
- while they’re a passenger in a vehicle
- in restaurants and bars, on restaurant and bar patios, and in public seating areas within 9 metres of a patio
- in hotel and motel rooms that do not allow smoking or vaping
Read more about possessing and using cannabis in What do the new laws on cannabis mean?
Rules set by municipalities, employers, and others
Along with federal and provincial laws, there may be other rules about where people can use cannabis. For example, these rules can be found in:
- municipal bylaws
- lease agreements
- policies of employers
- policies of property owners, for example, condo bylaws
- campus policies at universities and colleges
Driving and cannabis
If the police think someone’s been using cannabis and driving, they can ask them to take a test.
Right now, the police can ask drivers to do a roadside Standardized Field Sobriety Test. Soon they’ll be able to use devices that test saliva for cannabis.
If someone refuses to take a test, they can be charged with a criminal offence.
Beginner and commercial drivers and anyone who’s 21 or younger can’t have any cannabis in their body when driving.
How the new rules affect tenants
There’s only one thing that has changed for sure. Tenants who follow the cannabis laws can no longer be evicted for “committing an illegal act”.
But there are many areas that are not yet clear.
What’s still unclear?
Before the recent changes, the law already said that tenants can be evicted for “substantially interfering” with the “reasonable enjoyment” of other tenants or of the landlord if they live in the building.
Whether smoking or vaping in one’s own unit causes this level of interference will depend on the situation. It might, for example, if other tenants are allergic to cannabis smoke.
Some landlords have said that growing cannabis can cause damage and create safety hazards.
The law already says that tenants can be evicted if they impair the safety of others or cause “undue” damage to the landlord’s property. Again, whether a landlord can prove this will depend on the situation.
Can landlords make their own rules?
Another question is whether landlords can add a “no cannabis” clause to their leases. They can probably do this for new tenants. But they can’t change an existing lease, unless the tenant agrees.
Some landlords are claiming that the wording of their existing leases allows them to change or add “building rules” at any time. The law is not clear on whether they can do this, or whether tenants have to follow new rules that they didn’t agree to.
When a lease expires, a tenant who wants to renew it for another fixed term might have to agree to changes that the landlord wants. But they also have the right to stay on a monthly basis with no changes to the agreement, except for any legally allowed rent increase.
And it’s not clear if a tenant who signs a lease with a no-cannabis clause can be evicted for breaking it, without the landlord having to prove damage or safety issues.
This email alert gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation.