Go Slow on Home Grow
The government deadline for the legalization of cannabis is fast approaching and some of the potential problems with the legislation are coming into sharper focus. Yet the promotion and protection of the health and safety of homes and families, especially when home cultivation of cannabis is involved, has received little attention in the cannabis legalization debates.
CREA recognizes the overarching objectives of protecting youth and promoting public safety, which has been evident in the dialogue leading up to the legislation and proposed regulatory framework. But the government is ignoring evidence that growing cannabis indoors can be hazardous to your home and health. Before we enact this part of the legislation, regulations should be in place to ensure the health and safety of Canadians.
The legislation currently allows individuals to grow four plants at home. On the surface, this sounds reasonable, even moderate. But it doesn’t limit the number of crops, or the size of each plant. With very little effort (proper irrigation and lighting) one could easily grow large corn stalk size plants and harvest three or four crops a year. The consequences are myriad and significant. Moderate yields could reach over five kilograms a year and at that level of production there is the potential for increased break-ins and thefts. More importantly, it increases the likelihood of cannabis products falling into the hands of children and youth because of easier access.
Both Health Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) place indoor air quality as one of the most important elements to maintaining a healthy home. The risks associated with extreme levels of mold, spores and fungus when growing cannabis indoors, are very well known, yet are not addressed in the proposed legislation or regulations. Individuals living in these conditions are subject to levels of exposure that could cause a myriad of respiratory diseases. Contamination from pesticides and fertilizers can also lead to issues with air quality, and these chemicals can be a risk to the neighbourhood or children that are unaware of its proximity and use.
In addition to health risks, improper installation and the use of grow-op equipment, including high-wattage lights and irrigation tools, pose safety risks. Improper electrical installation and the associated fire hazards become a major issue with indoor grow operations because growing cannabis takes an enormous amount of electricity. These concerns could result in serious damage to housing infrastructure and threaten the safety of neighbourhoods. Many REALTORS® have witnessed firsthand
the damage done to homes where cannabis had been cultivated without adequate ventilation and/or appropriate electrical infrastructure. REALTORS® are familiar with the stigmatization and loss in value for properties known to have housed former ‘grow-ops’.
Canadians voted for the legalization of cannabis but it is a huge undertaking. We believe there is a strong case for getting the legislation right, versus getting it right now. That means requiring regulations, likely at the provincial level, prior to allowing home grow operations. We look forward to working with the government and senators to improve the legislation on behalf of home and property owners.