Home cultivation enforcement among biggest municipal headaches ahead of marijuana legalization

Published: April 19, 2018

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



The federal government will introduce recreational pot legalization in Canada no later than July 2018. While some areas of the regulatory frameworks are in place, others are not, including how to properly police impaired driving through cannabis use. Among the other problems created by marijuana legalization is how to properly regulate home-grown cultivation.

In its guide to legalization, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities says home-grown cannabis presents the “biggest municipal headache”. Released on Monday, the guide is to help local governments around Canada prepare for the legalization of pot for recreational use this summer.

The federation says legislation for regulating sales, consumption, and production of cannabis could need the involvement of up to 17 different municipal departments. Rules will encompass departments ranging from agriculture, land planning, business licensing, and public smoking use.

Despite the complications, the guide points to the upcoming law that will allow residential dwellings to grow up to four marijuana plants as the biggest issue facing municipalities:

“The issue of home cultivation of cannabis – even with a four-plant limit in place – is one that the will require public consultation,” the guide offers.

“It is also the issue that will be the most challenging for municipalities to decide on whether to develop a regulatory response. … Of all the regulations that might be considered in relation to the legalization of cannabis, this one has the potential to generate the greatest number of enforcement complaints.”

The guide cites the existing legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, which has been in effect since 1999. That legalization has resulted in difficulties in managing legal home cultivation.

“It has meant a significantly compromised housing stock, heavy demands on policing resources, local nuisance complaints and erosion of the culture of compliance on which the effectiveness of local bylaws largely depends,” the guide says.

While there are licenses for people authorized to grow cannabis for medical reasons, the guide says Health Canada has failed to enforce the limits of growth allowed. Because of this, “municipalities may be skeptical about whether or not people will comply with the four-plant limit (for recreational cannabis) and if the federal government will enforce the rule.”