Earlier this year, the Liberal government announced plans to legalize marijuana and create a framework for Canadians’ ability to grow their own cannabis at home.
The proposed legislation was largely seen as the Liberals keeping a key campaign promise. Cannabis legalization was something Trudeau voiced strong support for at multiple points in his campaign. Despite support from the general public, numerous marijuana advocates have criticized the plan as not being ‘true’ legalization, but rather a form of decriminalization.
So before you start clearing out closet space to grow your own, make sure you know about several potential problems with this proposed legislation.
1. You can only grow four plants at a time.
Slow down there, Cheech. Just because you’re allowed to grow, doesn’t mean that the rule of
law has gone up in smoke and you can start a giant grow-op. Contrary to homebrewing laws (there is no legal limit to the amount of beer you can brew in Canada), the regulations surrounding “homegrowing” are extremely limiting.
This four-plant limit is one of the major issues cited by advocacy groups as not being representative of legalization, but rather decriminalization. It will be illegal to sell (unless you have a licence to do so) anyways, so does it really matter if someone has four plants or 10?
2. Your plants can’t be taller than one metre.
So I can only grow four plants? So what? I’ll just make them as tall as possible, right?
Under the proposed legislation, plants can’t get taller than one metre in height. This isn’t an issue for most indica-dominant strains, which tend to grow shorter, but it makes growing sativa strains, which commonly grow over one and a half metres indoors (or up to 6 metres outdoors), significantly harder.
The worst thing about this rule is it doesn’t even accomplish its implicit goal of reducing total cannabis yields per plant. Low Stress Training (LST) and “topping” – trimming the tops of the plants to help stimulate outward plant growth – are two extremely common and easy methods of increasing plant yield while minimizing height. Simply put, a one-metre cannabis plant can yield more than a two-metre one if the right methods are used.
3. Saliva tests can produce positive results DAYS after you last smoked.
This is a huge one. Tests claim to only detect cannabis for up to 12 hours after last smoking, but in Australia, where saliva-style swab tests have been going on since late 2015, lawyer David Heilpern says that’s not the case. He’s heard hundreds of cases where people claim they tested positive for smoking cannabis weeks after they last smoked.
“In the vast majority of cases the time frame has been over 12 hours,” he told ABC last March. “Not once has any scientific evidence been produced to this court that supports the [idea] that the final or any other test only works for 12 hours. It could be that every single one of those defendants are lying to police. However, on balance, I find that this is unlikely.”
Even that original 12-hour limit seems a little excessive. You couldn’t, for example, smoke a joint before you go to bed at 11 pm if you have to leave your apartment at 8 am for work. Not if you want to drive, that is.
4. Your landlord doesn’t want you growing weed in your apartment.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Just days after the Liberals’ initial announcement, the Quebec Landlords Association (QLA) said that if recreational cannabis becomes legal, landlords should be able to stop potential tenants from growing it in rental units. Similarly, Landlord B.C., the association representing landlords in B.C., said strict rules needed to be hashed out, citing other tenants’ reasonable enjoyment of their own apartments.
“We have an obligation to ensure all tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment, and that doesn’t apply strictly to noise but … to this scenario, where cannabis growth and production in a rental dwelling … can be intrusive,” said David Hutniak, CEO of the organization. “The odor in particular is the issue we run into with other tenants who find it quite offensive.”
While it’s still uncertain how the laws will affect, if at all, apartment growing for recreational use (currently, medical-marijuana users don’t have to get consent from their landlords to start growing), strong resistance from landlords all over the country could lead to restrictions on growing cannabis recreationally in a rented apartment.
5. Four plants per household, not per person.
This is one that a lot of people are really surprised about when they hear it. Thought that you and that awkward roommate you barely talk to would both get to grow your own four plants and could continue not socially interacting with each other?
Wrong, you each get two plants.
Under these new rules, that four-plant figure is on a per household basis, not per person. This means, for example, even if you live with four other people, you still only get four plants between the five of you, not 20.
6. We have no clue how it’s going to be sold.
The proposed legislation lets individual provinces and territories set their own rules regarding things like minimum age requirements and locations where cannabis can be sold.
This could be seen as good or bad depending on where on political spectrum you sit, but it’s important to note that aside from Finland, Australia and Iceland, Canadians pay more on average for alcohol than any other country in the world.
If the majority of provinces and territories opt for less of a “free market” system, this means that those used to paying around $8-10 a gram — the standard price at dispensaries and on the street — might be met with some harsh price hikes.
What do you think of the Liberals’ marijuana legalization plan? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.