Canada: Growing 4 Cannabis Plants For Recreational Use Is Not A Grow-Op,’ Experts Say

Photo Credit: Robert F. Bukaty

Canadian realtors are raising fears that growing recreational marijuana at home “unleashes all kinds of problems,” while suggesting that growing four plants amounts to a “grow-op.”

Ottawa’s proposed marijuana legalization regulations allow Canadians to grow up to four marijuana plants at their residences. Medical users are already allowed to grow at home after a federal court ruled in 2016 that the government cannot ban patients from growing their own cannabis.

But the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is proposing an amendment to the regulations that would result in a halt on home cultivation for recreational purposes until provinces can enact new regulations after Ottawa provides guidelines on how to do so.

During a Senate committee panel discussion on the Cannabis Act, CREA CEO Michael Bourque said though the bill wouldn’t directly affect realtors, it will “impact their customers.”

“Indoor cultivation can cause damage that will result in increased expenses, especially for landlords, who will then have to pass on these costs on to tenants. This will raise rents for Canadians, and will disproportionately impact lower-income Canadians,” Bourque said Monday. “The stated purpose of the bill is to protect public health and public safety and yet the legislation ignores evidence that growing cannabis indoors can be hazardous to the home and health of homeowners.”

Bourque went on to argue that “under the right conditions,” four plants can yield five kilograms of cannabis a year, a level of production the CREA claims could potentially cause damage to homes and “endanger at-risk populations and increase housing costs.”

CREA’s president Barb Sukkau issued a statement Monday afternoon, likening the proposed four-plant legislation to a “grow-op.”

“We’ve heard from homeowners and tenants across the country who are worried about living beside grow-ops. What does this do to their home value? Will this increase their rent? How safe will their kids be? Will their quality of life diminishes because of the prevalence of drugs in their neighborhood?” Sukkau said in a statement. “These are all concerns that need to be considered before the passing of Bill C-45.”

But, is successfully growing four plants dangerous to the home and amount to a “grow-op” as the CREA claims?

Deepak Anand, vice president of government relations for Cannabis Compliance Inc., a consultancy firm which works with prospective licensed producers and retailers on navigating the regulatory process surrounding cannabis in Canada, says there’s still a lot of misinformation and “stigma associated with the whole production of cannabis.”

“I mean four plants is certainly not a home grow, it’s definitely not dangerous to the house,” Anand told Global News. “Historically there’s been a lot concern around a home grow as it relates to electrical operations in a house, mould and fungus, but that’s typically in a much higher a number of plants…four plants certainly won’t be anywhere close wrecking a home in that sense.”

The cannabis expert when on to point out that provinces are developing various legislations around home cultivation, some setting a limit of fewer than four plants, or they can’t be in the flowering stages at the same time. Quebec and Manitoba, for example, have chosen to prohibit home cultivation of weed altogether, though federal pot laws will take precedence over provincial laws.

“The problem is, it’s the word ‘home-grow,’ in that it’s been abused so much historically that people are very concern when that word, especially police and fire officials,” Anand said. “I don’t think that everyone, including police and fire officials, are actually understanding what the federal government is proposing with the four-plant limit.”

Anand acknowledged that during the early days of the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), the rollout was abused to some extent; with large medical cannabis grow operations occurring. Anand said because of the criminal provisions in the Cannabis Act, there would be little motivation to work outside the four-plant limit.

During Monday’s committee meeting, Sen. Ratna Omidvar pointed out to Bourque that the Task Force on Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis received 30,000 submissions and that 92 per cent support home cultivation.

“I think we’ve heard the discussion around the difference between four plants and a grow-op,” the Ontario senator said. “And four plants do not make a grow-op. We are not looking at a Breaking Bad kind of scenario.”