How Marijuana Legalization Affects Insurance Costs in Properties

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With nearly 40 years in business, Braden Equities Inc. is a premier property management company in Edmonton and the surrounding area. Our management style is tailored to the unique needs of each one of our clients, and we work as a team to ensure that every project is treated with the care and attention it deserves.

cannabis in canada

Yes, cannabis is legal in Canada, but there are provisions to follow if people want to use it recreationally.

For one, recreational use in Alberta is permissible only if the consumer is 18 years or older. This is the same age as Alberta’s minimum age for purchasing and consuming alcohol and tobacco, so nothing changed with this new legalization.

Individuals must also purchase their marijuana from licensed stores or albertacannabis.org and can buy or carry only 30 grams at a time. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, recreational users of marijuana cannot smoke in designated public places. Therefore, if your condo board allows smoking cigarettes in designated areas and kept their bylaws as is, then recreational marijuana use should be consistent with that.

Nevertheless, these new changes to the law also signal potential changes to insurance. The reason for this is because people can now cultivate up to four marijuana plants for their enjoyment. This can cause damage to your buildings from moisture and mould in units.

Growing Plants at Home

Under federal legislation, adults can grow a maximum of four plants per household from seeds they bought from licensed cannabis retailers. However, those who live in multi-family buildings may not be allowed to grow cannabis in their homes, based on rules in their rental agreements or condominium bylaws.

Facts on Growing Marijuana

Growing marijuana at home would increase the price of insurance, as well as the maintenance costs of the property because humidity, electrical changes, and mould will have a notable impact.

Mould will most certainly affect indoor air quality. If it is allowed to grow, mould contributes to poor indoor air quality, aggravating allergic reactions, or exacerbating bacterial and viral growth, which lead to infections. Also, mould can increase coughing, wheezing, and headaches in people, all of which affect people’s quality of life.

Home inspectors will have to be vigilant to spot property damages and deficiencies caused by the use and cultivation of cannabis.

Insurance

Insurers consider the most significant risks for people growing cannabis at home are damages to their property due to fire and theft. Growing a single cannabis plant or two is no different from growing regular houseplants; however, Insurance assessment gets more convoluted when individuals start automating their cultivation. Most people add heating and lighting to make marijuana plants grow faster or taller. These changes can increase risks for fire and electrocution because the fumes can build up inside the ventilation system and cause mould or fungus to develop.

Home insurers are concerned about consumers growing marijuana at home because of potential property risks, especially the likelihood of fire, burglary, water damage, and mould.

Maintenance

Maintaining multi-family buildings will be challenging in those properties that don’t prohibit the growth of marijuana plants. The humidity required to grow marijuana plants will undoubtedly cause damage to units and common areas. The mould and spores caused by this humidity can erode drywall, ceilings, floors and cause damage to window seals. An increased risk of fire hazards caused by lamps and the not-so-simple act of drying marijuana in stoves and other electrical devices. This too will make it harder to maintain a property, as will an overloaded electrical system from growing lamps and the disproportionate use of water.

At times, the condominium corporation can recover the cost of repairs for damage to the units or common elements from the owner who is responsible for the loss. This could potentially ease the expenses due to damage such as mould; however, this does not eliminate the risks.

Related blog:  What You Need to Know about Cannabis in Condos

Smoking Cannabis at Home

Individuals must also purchase their marijuana from licensed stores or albertacannabis.org and can buy or carry only 30 grams at a time. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, recreational users of marijuana cannot smoke in designated public places. Therefore, if your condo board allows smoking cigarettes in designated areas and kept their bylaws as is, then it’s safe to assume you can smoke marijuana, too.

With this legalization, recreational cannabis consumption is allowed in a person's residence. Moreover, just as smoking cigarettes has some insurance risk, smoking cannabis at home has the same risk. For this reason, condo corporations must regulate how to regulate recreational marijuana use within their buildings.

Common Areas

Where the recreational use of cannabis was once illegal, Canadians can now partake in recreational marijuana use. One of the main concerns of this new legislation is the permeation of odours throughout a building.

In general, within condominiums where occupants share much of the space between units, indoor air quality causes a significant issue because it can lead to a variety of health issues over time. Recreational cannabis users might think that edibles would be less disruptive; however, baking marijuana does create a pungent odour.

Understanding that more investigation will be required, condo boards might consider developing new policies and rules to ban smoking inside individual units, on balconies, and common areas. If this was the choice made by the board, it’s important to acknowledge they need to consider accommodating people with disabilities.

It’s fundamental to educate people to be aware and considerate of other people’s health and preferences. It’s important to acknowledge the health risks that come with recreational use and what people can do to ensure the safety of those who choose to use it.

Air Quality

The same as cigarette smoke, the smell of marijuana smoke could interfere with the enjoyment of the property for individual owners. What's more, smoke could also exacerbate existing medical conditions such as asthma. High levels of moisture/humidity are often associated with the growth of marijuana plants, which makes the resultant mould and potential damage to the unit and common elements a concern.

It's for this reason that some condo corporations have already instated restrictions to how dwellers should consume recreational marijuana. For example, they may allow owners to smoke only in their units or on their balconies, or just letting the consumption of edible marijuana as an alternative to smoking/vaping. The challenge in this approach is that when condo boards enact a ban on smoking, residents might find these rules unreasonable.

Condominiums must accommodate a person’s disability and medical needs, which may include allowing the use of marijuana even if against the condo rules. 

One of the more significant concerns that arose when cannabis legalization appeared on the horizon was the fear of smoke penetration into the units of non-smokers. For many condo boards, the solution has been to create rules that ban smoking inside individual units, on balconies, and common areas.

What does this mean for individuals who depend on marijuana for medicinal purposes? After all, condo corporations must accommodate persons with a disability. A successful legal challenge on those terms requires that the person with the disability prove their disability, their prescribed cannabis for treatment, that their consumption is via smoking and that any other method is insufficient, and that smoking inside their unit is imperative.

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To be safe when partaking in recreational marijuana use, people should select to use lower-risk products, avoid mixing it with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, and remember it impairs their ability to drive a car. Cannabis use can also cause harm to those who aren’t using the drug.

Second-hand smoke is a health concern and, while not much is known about the effects of marijuana smoke, the preliminary research shows that its inhalation is just as bad for our lungs. Use inside the building, common areas and parkade can create smell pollution, which affects other people’s ability to enjoy their living space.

Not to mention, smell seeps through vents and doorways.

Contact Us

Remember that this new legalization is going to continue changing the residential landscape. There is not one right answer, and everyone is learning.

If you think you need help in this process, please feel free to get in touch with us at Braden Equities, Inc.

Braden Equities Inc. has successfully managed condominium buildings in Alberta for decades. We remain committed to the residents living in each building we operate and would love to help you.

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