Update on Cannabis Legislation and Smoking Policy
Through its commitment to providing tenants and employees with a safe and healthy environment in which to live and work, Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) is committed to creating a smoke-free environment. Our ultimate goal, as desired by the majority of tenants, is to eliminate smoking everywhere on TCHC property. The changes will be phased in over several years, in consultation with tenants.
Creating a smoke-free environment
Currently, TCHC tenants are permitted by law to smoke tobacco or cannabis inside their unit as well as in any outdoor space beyond nine metres of a building entrance or exit.
In future, any household signing a new lease, either as a new tenant or as a transfer, will be required to agree not to smoke in their units or anywhere on TCHC property as a condition of their lease.
New Ontario legislation
Shortly after recreational cannabis became legal on October 17, 2018, the Ontario government passed new legislation. While the former Ontario Cannabis Act restricted recreational cannabis use to private residences only, new Ontario laws also allow persons 19 years of age or older to smoke cannabis outdoors, subject to certain conditions.
Smoking or growing cannabis: conditions apply
TCHC tenants age 19 or older can legally smoke or grow cannabis in their units. However, certain conditions apply:
- Smoking activities cannot result in an impairment of safety or undue damage to the property. As well, they cannot cause substantial interference with other tenants' reasonable enjoyment of their homes or interfere with a right, privilege or interest of the landlord or the landlord's reasonable enjoyment of the complex.
- Each household can legally grow up to four cannabis plants in their unit for personal use. However, the growing activities cannot pose health and safety risks or property damage risks, including but not limited to mould growth.
Households that fail to comply will face a ban on smoking or growing cannabis in their unit and TCHC may begin proceedings before the Landlord and Tenant Board to terminate the tenancy.
Questions & Answers
Now that cannabis is legalized, where can TCHC tenants smoke it?
TCHC tenants 19 years old or older can smoke or consume cannabis inside their unit (a private balcony and private yard are considered part of the unit) as well as in any outdoor space beyond nine metres of an entrance or exit to a TCHC building.
TCHC prohibits smoking or consuming cannabis through other means within all other spaces of its buildings, including common areas, lobbies, hallways and parking garages, and outdoors within nine metres of a building entrance or exit, and inside and within 20 metres of a playground.
Are there any conditions to smoking cannabis?
Yes, the entitlement to smoke cannabis is subject to certain conditions that protect the health, safety and quiet enjoyment of tenants' homes and the building. TCHC will act if a tenant's cannabis smoking:
- creates an impairment of safety;
- results in undue damage;
- causes a substantial interference with other tenants' reasonable enjoyment of their unit or residential complex, or
- interferes with a lawful right, privilege or interest of the landlord or with the landlord's reasonable enjoyment of the complex.
Households that fail to comply with these conditions will face a ban on smoking cannabis in their unit and TCHC may begin proceedings before the Landlord and Tenant Board to terminate the tenancy.
What about TCHC's commitment to moving to smoke-free buildings?
TCHC supports safe, healthy communities and workplaces, and tenants' reasonable enjoyment of their homes. That is why are committed to eventually making all our buildings completely smoke-free. We will engage in tenant consultation throughout the process of implementing this policy.
After TCHC's no-smoking policy comes into effect and a household signs a new lease, tenants will be required to agree not to smoke in their unit or anywhere on TCHC property. Tenants will still be allowed to consume legal cannabis through other means.
Can I smoke on my balcony or in my yard?
Yes. For residential apartments, balconies are considered part of the unit. For houses and townhouses, balconies, back yards and front yards are considered part of the unit. After TCHC's no-smoking policy comes into effect and a household signs a new lease, this will no longer be allowed.
The new law says I can grow up to four cannabis plants for my personal use. So, can I grow plants in my unit?
Yes, the law permits each household—not each resident of the household—to grow up to four cannabis plants in their unit for personal use. But in doing so, tenants cannot create health and safety risks or property damage risks, including, but not limited to, mould growth. If growing activities are found to create such risks, TCHC may ban the household from growing cannabis plants and may begin proceedings before the Landlord and Tenant Board to terminate the tenancy.
What does my current lease say about growing plants in my unit?
The current TCHC lease prohibits tenants from making any changes to the plumbing or wiring in their units, including all electrical wiring. The lease also prohibits tenants from tampering with window safety stops or creating fire or health hazards in their units, including shock risks, overloading electrical outlets or placing damp products near electrical products.
If any of the foregoing has occurred because of growing activities, TCHC may ban the household from growing cannabis and may begin proceedings before the Landlord and Tenant Board to terminate the tenancy.
What if I have a prescription for medical marijuana, or smoking is part of my Indigenous cultural practices?
Medical and recreational cannabis smoking are permitted inside units for existing tenants, subject to certain conditions that protect the health, safety and quiet enjoyment of tenants' homes and the building.
Once TCHC's no-smoking leases are in place, accommodation requests and supporting documentation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
TCHC is committed to ensuring that needs identified under the Ontario Human Rights Code as well as Indigenous traditions are respected, provided they do not create a serious impairment of safety.