What would you do if your landlord barred you from consuming alcohol in your home? Would you sneak off into the streets with your flask, or would you express yourself with a certain finger and carry on your game of beer pong? It sounds absurd, but cannabis users may find themselves facing similar situations later this month.
Last week, rental company Boardwalk announced that it will be banning all forms of cannabis consumption and cultivation on its properties. As Boardwalk owns over 33,000 rental units, they’re setting an example for smaller landlords. The rules do make an exemption for medical users, but it requires documentation, which is a blatant breach of privacy as pharmaceutical drug users don’t have to disclose such information to their landlord.
Boardwalk’s rules also don’t distinguish between cannabis consumption methods. Cannabis intake is a nebulous world of different options: smoking, vaping, edibles, drinkables, and more are available. It’s illogical to not differentiate between all of these. Vaping, for example, doesn’t smell nearly as much as combustion. Also, eating a cannabis-infused brownie has absolutely no impact on the quality of life of other renters and doesn’t cause damage to the building.
Because Boardwalk’s regulations are so strict, it’s possible they’ll primarily be used to evict problem tenants or withhold damage deposits. Legal experts have questioned the validity of banning cannabis, but not tobacco. The focus on cannabis smoke is illogical since different people dislike different smells. The fact that Boardwalk will continue to permit tobacco smoking on all of their apartment balconies demonstrates this cognitive dissonance.
Many people seem to believe that legalization will have everyone and their dog blazing it up. This is reefer madness, not fact; US states that legalized didn’t see an increase in consumption. Most people who currently don’t use cannabis aren’t planning on starting once it becomes legal.
Edmonton has been branded the “chill” city for weed smokers, with public consumption permitted. Tenants in Boardwalk’s Edmonton suites will be able to walk outside to light up, but what about Canadians who aren’t afforded such luxury by their more conservative city councils? In Calgary and St. Albert, all public use is in for a ban. Many Calgarians and St. Albertans in rental suites will have no legal place to use cannabis.
Banning cannabis will not prevent people from using it, as over 14 per cent of Canadians are reported to be cannabis users. With no possible way of obeying the rules, people will completely disregard them. If no public consumption is legal, what difference does it make if smokers are 1 metre or 100 metres away from your window? UBC has announced that cannabis use will be allowed on their campus in designated areas. Let’s face it: whether or not it’s banned, students will be using it on the UBC campus, so they should be given a designated consumption area.
We need to focus on the negative effects of city annoyances like smoke and take the focus away from which particular plant is on fire. For the time being, smoke is considered a legal and established part of the city, so laws around cannabis should reflect that. If city councilors and landlords decide that we no longer want smoke in these places, regulations should be changed to not single out individual plants.