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Posted by on Apr 2018 in All Stories, Member Support, Slider | 0 comments

Clearing up the Confusion about Cannabis Pt. 2

This article is a continuation of Clearing up the Confusion about Cannabis Pt. 1.

The use of recreational and medical cannabis has raised a number of questions for non-profit housing providers. To help clear up some of the confusion, below are answers to the most common questions ONPHA’s Member Support Team has received on this issue.

Question: How should I handle it when other tenants complain about the use of cannabis on the premises?

Answer: Implement steps that you would take for any other complaint.

First, investigate and determine where the smoke is coming from. In some cases, you can simply ask a tenant if they are smoking inside of their unit. In other cases, you will need to issue a notice of entry. Other tenants and staff can also document their observations in common areas.

Once smoking is confirmed, remind the tenant of your smoke-free policy (if you have one) and/or let them know that they are interfering with the reasonable enjoyment of their neighbours. Be sure to document the complaint, your follow-up and the outcome.

Implementing a smoke-free policy makes it easier to address recreational cannabis use, as boundaries are clearly outlined. If you do not already have a smoke-free policy but are considering implementing one, you can take a look at ONPHA’s Non-Smoking Policy Survey – a simple template that will help you gather input from your tenants.

Question: How do I manage competing priorities when it comes to tenant complaints about cannabis use?

Answer: It is important to assess the protected categories under the Ontario Human Rights Code that are play here.

First, review your policies in this area. Next, determine if the complaint involves the use of medical cannabis and whether smoking is a necessary mode of administering treatment. You will also want to find out if there are medically significant symptoms that make smoking inside of the unit a necessity (for example, the tenant has limited mobility and cannot smoke outside as needed).

Possible actions you might take include:

  • Asking tenants to smoke outdoors if possible
  • Sealing the unit(s)
  • Installing a ventilation fan or providing an air purifier
  • Depending on the situation, you might offer an internal transfer to the smoking or non-smoking tenant

Beyond these measures, strategies to address or resolve the issue must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If the matter cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of all the tenants involved, it is important to seek legal advice on how best to proceed.

Question: How do I stay up to speed on issues related to cannabis?

Answer: ONPHA will continue to keep members informed of legal decisions, related issues and new resources. If you are an ONPHA members and are not already receiving our bi-weekly e-Alerts, sign-up by emailing You can also stay tuned for more information on upcoming related conference sessions and other learning opportunities.

Additional Resources
Check out ONPHA’s Smoke-Free Apartment Buildings and Medical Marijuana infoON for more tips and samples. If you have further questions, contact ONPHA’s Member Support Team at

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