Co-ownership and lessees : difficult to prohibit medical marijuana

November 25, 2019 - The problems associated with the use of medical marijuana (in co-ownerships) remain unresolved, as individual and collective rights often clash on this issue. As Yves Joli-Coeur, lawyer emeritus and Secretary General of the RGCQ, reported to RDI (this morning), judgments in this matter are made on a "case-by-case" basis.


Difficult situations

As a general rule, if a syndicate of co-owners prohibits marijuana in its building, occupants will not be allowed to smoke it in private and common portions. But to enforce this regulation on people whose state of health justifies this consumption, things get tough, based on some decisions opposing lessees to their lessors.

It must be understood that in co-ownerships, the rental rate of condos is increasing, so that many co-owners must share their immediate environment with lessees. Life between occupants can become extremely toxic given that the right to life is protected by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

A law that favours litigation

That being said, how can an individual requesting cannabis for medical purposes argue his or her need to smoke cannabis to a syndicate of co-owners? By a prescription or a doctor's note? "Unfortunately, the law remains vague as to the underlying concept in this matter, thus favouring litigious situations," says Yves Joli-Coeur. Co-owners who oppose cannabis will rightly argue for the right to a smoke-free environment to preserve their health, while others will want to use it to ease their suffering.

We know that in co-ownerships, odours often migrate from one unit to another. Moreover, second-hand smoke is at the heart of medical marijuana disputes. For example, a neighbour with asthma could be seriously worried if a sick person is allowed to smoke cannabis in the apartment where he or she lives. In the event of legal proceedings before the court, the demonstration of medical expertise is very costly, not to mention a difficult articulation of the evidence.

Bill 16, which provides in particular for improving the "rules of operation of the Régie du logement", could provide a better framework for marijuana for all Quebec lessees. But the Corporation des propriétaires immobiliers du Québec recently informed us that the government ‘’will not obligate tenants to provide a medical certificate issued by a member of the Collège des médecins du Québec to justify their use of cannabis’’.

By RDI and François G. Cellier for

Montreal, November 25, 2019