An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (landlord consent)

Sponsor

Cathy McLeod  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Second reading (House), as of April 18, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-330.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide for regulations requiring the consent of landlords to activities in leased premises in respect of controlled drugs and substances.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

April 18th, 2018 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

moved that Bill C-330, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (landlord consent), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand and debate my private member's bill in the House today. I look at the two votes we just had which were unanimous. They were on items put forward by Liberal members and concern very practical matters that will make things better for Canadians. I certainly I hope this particular piece of legislation will be received in the same spirit of co-operation, because I am truly convinced that this bill would make things much better and solve a really significant and difficult issue.

What Bill C-330 would do if passed is amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide for regulations requiring the consent of landlords to tenant activities in respect of controlled drugs and substances. More specifically, the enactment would require the written consent of any landlord on whose premises the production or sale of any controlled substance is to occur.

The bill is in response to the access to cannabis for medical purposes regulations, which came into effect August 24, 2016. These new regulations do not require individuals who wish to produce marijuana in their residence to notify or seek the consent of their landlords. The federal government failed to provide clear direction for landlords and insurance companies when it made changes to the medical marijuana rules.

Under the rules, Health Canada gives specific guidelines on how to safely set up a medical grow op, but when it comes to checking if the safety rules are being followed, the federal department is leaving that up to the municipalities. I think all of us who live in communities have had our municipalities express extreme frustration on this issue. According to the local development and engineering services director in Kamloops, the problem is that federal privacy rules apply, which prevent local authorities from knowing where medical marijuana is being grown. They do not get a list of addresses, so they cannot actually do anything proactively in terms of going out and inspecting the premises. It is a significant issue. There is no system to proactively check if tenants are growing the allowed number of plants according to their permit.

When asked about this issue, the health minister said the federal government's role is to ensure people who need medical marijuana have access. I want to pick up on that point. I do not disagree that people who need medical marijuana should have access, but I want to give an example. Some people need digoxin for their heart, but they do not have to actually grow foxglove in their home to get digoxin. If people need something that is medically necessary, surely to goodness we could find a better way than having them grow it in their home because they cannot afford it. We have found ways around antibiotics and drugs like digoxin. We do not require people to grow their own medication. The government says that we have to provide access, but who is looking out for the landlords who have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into their homes? They are having their homes destroyed because the federal government has not found a better way to provide access to needed medical marijuana. Surely we can do better than that.

This is important for people who might be listening, because there is a lot of talk right now about the new recreational regime. Bill C-45, which is before the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, is a proposed regulatory framework for cannabis for recreational purposes. As I talk, members will see there is a huge difference between what is proposed for recreational use and medical marijuana.

With medical marijuana, the task force that was tasked with going around and making recommendations to the government essentially suggested that as the government moved toward legalization of marijuana and regulations the distinct system of the medical marijuana regime be maintained for medical purposes.

We have two very distinct systems. One is recreational, and that is Bill C-45, which is moving through the Senate. We also have the issue of medical marijuana, which has been around for many years.

The medical regime will allow people, including those under the age of 18, with the support of a health care practitioner, to have access to cannabis for medical purposes. They can purchase it from a federally licensed seller of cannabis for medical purposes. They can cultivate their own, if they are over the age of 18, or designate someone to grow cannabis on their behalf, which is called “designated production”.

There used to be limits on how much cannabis could be stored. The Liberals tried to align the recreational and medical regimes, but they took away the limits on what can be stored, which had been in place before.

When the Liberals put out the new regulations around recreational use, they talked about four plants. I think they did that because they knew they would be heading into the difficult territory we have seen with the medical regime. It is four plants. It can be regulated. The provincial authorities have the ability to regulate. For example, strata condominiums can say whether one can have dogs or cats. There is an ability for provinces to create some regulations around the four-plant designation. I believe some provinces are saying no to the home grow and others are saying yes. The government recognized that with any more than four plants it would be heading into very difficult territory, but there was no consideration given to the issue. It is only the federal government that can solve this issue with the medical marijuana. The provinces cannot do it nor can anyone else.

It is important to note that with a medical licence, people can grow their own and be designated to grow for someone else. There is a maximum of four licences to grow cannabis in one residence. For example, a 1,500 square foot apartment could have up to four licences. What does that mean in practical purposes? If one has been prescribed three grams per day, that means one could have 15 plants indoors, six plants outdoors, or a combination of indoor and outdoor plants. However, it is not uncommon or all that extreme that a person may have a prescription for seven grams a day. I remember the government moving the limit for our veterans from 10 grams to three grams. Again, seven grams is a number we can use. If there is a licence to grow for four people at seven grams a day, a person could have an enormous number of plants indoors. It could be up to 120 plants growing indoors if someone had four licences for seven grams. It is an incredible amount.

I will recount the true story of someone who came into my office, and this was part of the genesis of the bill. He shared his story with CBC in February 2017:

Longtime landlord Darryl Spencer was left scrambling for insurance after discovering a tenant was growing dozens of medical marijuana plants inside and outside his rental house.

When the landlord told his insurance company about the perfectly legal grow-op, his coverage was cancelled, leaving him with no insurance, few rights and a big cleanup bill.

Spencer says the downstairs tenant in the Kamloops, B.C., rental property got a medical marijuana licence that allowed him to legally grow as many as 60 plants without his landlord's permission or knowledge.

This was his retirement savings plan, by the way. He had decided to put his money into a revenue-making rental property. There were 60 plants there without his knowledge.

The article continues:

A call from a concerned neighbour prompted Spencer, who is also a retired fire inspector, to check out the home he's rented out to different tenants for a decade.

He discovered a mess of extension cords, fans and bright lights packed into a room filled with dozens of marijuana plants. The upstairs tenant, a woman with a small child, was complaining about heat radiating through the walls and electrical breakers going off....

...landlords have little recourse if a tenant is growing licensed medical marijuana. They don't even have the right to know it's happening. Yet it's landlords who are being denied insurance

They do not have the right to know what is happening when a tenant is growing medical pot.

Spencer told Go Public, “I was worried about the fire hazard. That was my first thought because of the extension cords, the use of electricity and that something could catch fire.”

When he notified his insurance company about his tenant's grow-op, Gore Mutual cancelled his coverage.

“They wouldn't cover claims to do with medical marijuana or air quality contamination,” he said.

Gore Mutual Insurance said that it “does not provide coverage for marijuana grow-operations regardless of their legality because this type of operation in a residential building presents inherent insurance risks.”

The article continues:

Those risks, the company says, include “a greater likelihood of water damage, mould, fire, vandalism and burglary.”

Under most basic home insurance policies, marijuana-related damages or anything that companies believe is “high risk” is not covered.

This is a view that is shared by many insurance companies, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“While regulations may allow for the legal growing of marijuana for medical purposes, it does not change the structural risk grow-ops pose to homes and condos.... The operation of a grow-op, whether legal or not, is still a high-risk activity.”

That was from Andrew McGrath, spokesman for the Insurance Bureau, in an email to Go Public. The article continues:

Gore Mutual Insurance told Spencer it might reinstate his coverage if he got rid of the tenant and took specific steps to ensure the house was safe to live in.

He actually had no ability to get rid of this tenant because of the laws of the land. He actually had to tell his tenant he would pay him to leave. That was a significant cost for him.

The article states:

The insurance company also wanted air and soil testing, plumbing and electrical inspections, and the house checked for mould.

Spencer did it all, while searching for another insurance company that would cover him right away. None would.

He went for quite a while with no insurance. I remember that he came in and chatted with me in my office. He was devastated. He was absolutely beside himself seeing his life savings potentially completely at risk.

As I noted, he finally paid the tenant to leave, then he did all the remediation that was required. Of course, he is out thousands and thousands of dollars.

We talk about availability and affordability of housing in this country. When we have potential landlords who are terrified that if they rent their homes they will have no recourse, and they still do not in terms of this medical marijuana issue, I think they rightfully are saying that they are not going to rent. They will take their homes off the market or sell them. Therefore, this is an issue that has ramifications for more than individuals and their finances. It has significant ramifications for the availability of affordable housing.

Go Public covered the story. Eventually Spencer did all the work and managed to cover things off.

I do not think anyone is appreciating the cost to landlords of people growing medical marijuana. According to the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations, it can be absolutely prohibitive.

What I am asking is that we get support to get this to committee. I appreciate that people who have a need for medical marijuana need affordable access to it, but surely, at the same time, we cannot be jeopardizing the hundreds and thousands of dollars of investments by people across this country who are being absolutely devastated by this particular structure of a regulation.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

April 18th, 2018 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to debate Bill C-330, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, also referred to as “landlord consent”.

I would like to thank the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo for giving us the opportunity to debate this issue.

As my hon. colleagues know, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is the federal law used to control substances that can alter mental processes and that may cause harm to health and society when diverted to an illicit market.

Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, it is illegal to conduct certain activities with controlled substances or precursors unless authorized by regulation or if an exemption is granted. These regulations and exemptions allow for lawful activities with a medical, scientific, or industrial purpose. Bill C-330 proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide a specific regulation-making authority concerning the creation of requirements for written consent from landlords to produce a controlled substance in leased premises. It would also require the minister of health to report back to Parliament on an annual basis to explain why additional regulations had not been made, if that is the case.

I would first clarify that the bill, as written, would have implications not only for individuals who are authorized to cultivate small amounts of cannabis for medical purposes but for other parties using leased space, including licensed producers of cannabis and licensed dealers of other controlled substances.

I remind members that the existing regulations on controlled substances under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act have quite a broad scope. They allow the government to tightly regulate a wide range of activities and aspects connected to the production and sale of controlled substances.

In addition, if a licensed dealer were to produce such substances in a commercially rented facility, the lease agreement would likely include details on the specific activities taking place in the facility, making the landlord aware that the controlled substances were being produced. Consent would be provided by way of approving the lease.

The commercial production of medical cannabis is already regulated by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, created under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Provisions in the access to cannabis for medical purposes regulations require that any application for a producer's licence be accompanied by a declaration by the owner of the site consenting to its use for the proposed activities, if the applicant is not the owner of the site.

As we debate Bill C-330 today, I think it is important to consider Bill C-45, the cannabis act, which is currently being studied by the Senate.

Should this legislation receive royal assent, oversight of cannabis would, for the most part, no longer fall under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act but rather under this new legislation, the cannabis act. A change in federal oversight would include comprehensive requirements for producers of cannabis and rules for individuals who choose to legally cultivate a small amount of cannabis in their homes for both medical and non-medical purposes.

If the cannabis act is passed, it will create a new legalization framework, with stringent regulations restricting access to cannabis by controlling the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis. If BillC-45 receives royal assent, adults will be able to access cannabis that has been quality controlled and that comes from a legal and tightly regulated industry.

Provinces and territories would be responsible for the distribution and retail sale of cannabis, while the federal government would oversee the production of cannabis to ensure consistent product safety and quality standards across Canada.

Subject to provincial limitations, the bill would also permit adults to grow up to four cannabis plants at home for personal use, provided that they were obtained legally. Allowing adults to grow a limited amount of cannabis in their dwellings is consistent with the advice from the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation and with the approach adopted by many jurisdictions in the United States that have legalized cannabis.

If the bill receives royal assent, both the commercial producers and any adults who choose to cultivate a small amount of cannabis at home will have to comply with the provincial, territorial, and municipal regulations in place. This would include compliance with all fire prevention regulations, building codes, and any rules or regulations set by the landlord or leaseholder.

Provinces, territories, and municipalities, based on their own authorities, have the flexibility to set additional requirements and restrictions, beyond what is being proposed in the cannabis act, to address matters of local concern and community priorities. In fact, a number of provinces have already decided to pursue such additional restrictions with respect to home cultivation.

For instance, Alberta is proposing that all home grow-ops be limited to indoor cultivation only. Nova Scotia wants to grant landlords the power to prohibit the use and cultivation of cannabis in rental units. New Brunswick wants all outdoor cultivation to be done in locked enclosures, and proposes separate, locked spaces for all indoor cultivation.

We will continue to work closely with provincial and territorial governments, municipalities, as well as other stakeholders and partners, to successfully implement our new legislative and regulatory framework to strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis.

Once again, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to debate this issue.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

April 18th, 2018 / 6:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Madam Speaker, it is pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-330, which is the initiative of my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

As I understand the initiative, when she introduced it on December 14, 2016, the member moved that this be an amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to deal not with recreational cannabis but rather to the issue of medical marijuana grown in homes and the impact it would have on landlords. Her remarks today illustrate that was the objective of the bill, that medical marijuana grown at home should be done so only, she claims, with the written consent of the landlord. That is what we are here to talk about, not, as I understand it, the issue of recreational cannabis, as seems to have been understood by others.

The initiative is well intentioned. The story that was recounted by my colleague from the CBC program At Issue, or whatever the CBC program was, is a poignant one. I, however, believe the bill would not do the job. I have several reasons for that, but I certainly understand the challenge she has put before us, which has to be addressed by insurance companies.

We have to provide more authority for landlords to address their legitimate interests. If there is the ability to have 120 plants for four people in an operation, if a person has a licence to grow seven grams a day as the member indicated, it seems to me we should do some serious analysis of how that could be. The intention of the regulations, which I will talk about in a minute, was not to allow that to occur, with all of the intended consequences that she eloquently described.

First, and in our view, the bill would create an unjustified barrier to patients' charter-protected rights to have reasonable access to medicinal cannabis. That is the law of the land, for better or for worse, since the Federal Court so decided in the Allard case.

Second, there is already a housing crisis in my part of the country. To the extent that this would be even a tiny impediment, that is something we ought to look at as well. I concede it is not the main issue here, but if one lives in a housing crisis, as I do in the city of Victoria, any restriction on tenants is something we need to address. I recognize the bill would apply, by the way, to residential and commercial landlords as well.

Third, I do not believe, despite what my friend said, that this is a federal matter at all. Landlord-tenant legislation has been the provinces' jurisdiction since Confederation. If there are problems with the federal Privacy Act, let us fix it. However, amending the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to deal with landlord consent is, in my judgment, unconstitutional and would never be accepted by the Supreme Court of Canada. Whether this is motivated by fearmongering over medicinal cannabis I do not know, but it has been repeated by our courts on many occasions that patients have a charter right to reasonable access to medicinal cannabis. Therefore, an additional obstruction to that, a restriction on that right, is something we should look at very carefully.

Municipalities have the authority to deal with this. I certainly believe the rentalsman in our province. If necessary, attendant legislative reform when we bring in legislation to address cannabis in a more holistic way is where we need to deal with this. However, to suggest that we would change criminal law to do so is overkill, unnecessary, and is likely inappropriate constitutionally anyway.

The bill purports to amend the whole Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Despite its wide breadth, it is intended to respond to the access to cannabis for medical purposes regulations. Although we do not see that in the face of the bill, I think that is the objective. However, it applies beyond that as well.

That regulation allows individual patients to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes or to designate someone to produce it for them. Designated people can only grow for a maximum of two individuals, including themselves.

The member made a good point in describing how that could be abused and how we could have, in her judgment, up to 120 plants in a house. Anybody who has been in a grow-op, as I have, will know the impact that can have on property values, and of that there is no doubt. I am not here to deny for a moment the devastating impact that can have on property.

The Constitution now allows, thanks to the Allard case from 2016, that there be this reasonable access to cannabis for a patient. If that is abused, it can be addressed in other ways. I think that is what the gravamen of the member's concern really is—that the abuse is obvious—but I am not entirely sure that to grow a couple of plants for use is going to cause the concerns that she has suggested in the worst extreme examples that she has given us.

A story from Global News in February of this year demonstrates the growing need for access to medical cannabis. We have heard a lot about this from veterans and others. Their claim is as follows:

The most recent Health Canada figures show that at the end of [2016], almost 130,000 Canadians had signed up with the country’s 38 licensed cannabis producers .That’s a 32 per cent jump from the more than 98,000 registered at the end of September 2016 and up from the 7,900 granted access to medicinal cannabis in mid-2014.

There has been an enormous increase in access to medical cannabis under the legislation that was brought in by the government, the medical cannabis regulations that were addressing a specific response to the Allard decision. The government had to do something; they did it, and that is what they did.

Bill C-330 seems designed to create a new barrier to reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes. In addition, subsection 177(7) of those regulations already requires owner consent if the proposed site of production is not the ordinary place of residence of the applicant or of the designated person. Anyone who would be cultivating more than the permissible amount or selling marijuana out of a residence would already be engaged in an illegal activity, irrespective of whether written consent by the landlord is obtained.

I think the fear that this proposed bill is addressing, as was made clear in the hon. member's remarks, is the potential impact on property values and the potential damages. I think that is an issue that should be addressed separately.

With respect to provincial jurisdictions, it is up to the provinces to determine how they choose to regulate rental properties. I think the member has demonstrated that there is a need here to address this issue, but that does not mean that it should be an amendment to the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to deal with this issue. It is an issue that needs to be changed.

Every province in the land is now addressing the challenge of cannabis. This is about medical cannabis. I understand that, but that is no reason why we cannot use this opportunity to amend our legislation. Municipalities and the provinces are making changes. We can change the landlord-tenant law to address it. Just as a landlord has every right to say that there will be no smoking of any substance in a property, for these kinds of property damage issues some kind of regulated access may need to be provided from time to time.

When safety is an issue, if there is any reasonable cause to suspect those kinds of electrical wires that the member spoke of, or if there are other obvious concerns, they should be addressed. The issue is where we address them. I do not believe they should be addressed in essentially federal criminal law, as the member would do.

Many jurisdictions in the United States have regulations about cannabis and landlord consent, although most are determined by state or municipal governments. For instance, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act provides that an owner can prohibit the smoking or cultivation of marijuana in a written lease. That state is not one of the states, by the way, that has legal marijuana for recreational use.

In Colorado, where cannabis use for medical and recreational purposes is permitted, one of the cities there, Gunnison, has a municipal code and marijuana business licensing regulations that require landlord consent as part of the application to operate a marijuana establishment. Therefore, suitable regulations are available.

In conclusion, first, this is the law of the land, whether we like it or not. Second, it is using a sledgehammer to kill an ant. Third, it is no doubt unconstitutional anyway.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

April 18th, 2018 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Madam Speaker, since I only have a couple of minutes, I will cut to the main part of what I was going to discuss.

First is a reminder that we are not debating Bill C-45. We are debating something completely different. It was disappointing that so much of the debate seemed to be confused with Bill C-45.

I spent many years in the mortgage industry, as some are aware. The ability to grow substantial amounts of medical marijuana in a home, without a landlord's consent, or with the landlord's consent, for that matter, produces some extremely difficult problems. The mortgage industry and the insurance industry have for years and years been extremely clear about not wishing to either insure or mortgage a property in which marijuana has been grown, whether legally or not. The issue has been expressed by many others. It is about the health hazards, the destruction of the property, the compromise of the structural integrity of the home, and the presence of noxious fumes and mould. These are the types of issues. Even if a person can legally grow 120 plants, no mortgage lender will ever mortgage a property that has been known to have had marijuana, in any quantity, grown in it.

This is a serious issue about stigmatizing a property. Once a property is known to have been used for the cultivation of marijuana, it becomes literally unmarketable. For many years, this would come up time and again. An application for a loan would come in. It would become known and disclosed that marijuana had been grown on the property, and no lender would touch it. I do not have time to read here the lending practice, but I can assure the House that marijuana being grown in a home makes the home unmarketable.

Bill C-330 attempts to address that issue by giving landlords at least some ability to control what goes on in their own property that will affect the marketability of the property, the insurability of the property, and certainly the ability to get a mortgage for the property. I support the bill for that reason. It would give some level of protection to landlords so that if they chose to rent a property to someone who would grow marijuana legally, under a medical marijuana prescription, it would be a contracted choice between the landlord and the tenant.

At present, landlords are in a disadvantaged position, where they risk their property through the growth of marijuana. It is perfectly legal, from the point of view of having a prescription for medical marijuana, or indeed, not that I want to bring Bill C-45 into it, but if it is passed and given royal assent, even to grow two plants. We might all agree that two plants is not a health hazard.

Right now, the mortgage and insurance industries do not agree with that. In 20-plus years as a mortgage broker, I never saw a lender that would knowingly mortgage a property when it was known to have had marijuana growing in it. That is something that the federal government will need to address, and the bill is a way to address it so that at least a landlord would have the ability to insist that marijuana not be grown in a property and would have at least some level of protection.

Madam Speaker, you only gave me two minutes. I trust I have exceeded that, and I will conclude with that, if that is your wish.