Go Slow on Home Grow

Policy - - Before The Bell | From The Editor - BY MICHAEL BOURQUE

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.

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