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Cannabis, Tobacco and Vaping: Know Your Rights

Is your legal defence going up in smoke? Could be you’re treading water when it comes to Canada’s and Ontario’s changing smoking and vaping laws. Unless your lease is grandfathered, smoking or vaping anything is out in many rental or condo buildings and public areas. 

How the Law Has Changed

Anti-smoking activists have been protesting lighting up in public areas for decades. Now activists have new targets: cannabis and e-cigarettes. Changes in federal and provincial laws have affected both.

19 Legal Age for Cannabis in Ontario

Ottawa has updated federal law to allow adults 18 or over to purchase and use cannabis. But provinces, territories and even municipalities can make their own rules and restrictions. That has allowed Ontario, and most other provinces and territories, to raise the legal age for cannabis use and consumption to 19 (21 in Quebec). 

How Cannabis Laws Work in Ontario

Ontario’s Cannabis Act, 2017 is not all smoke and mirrors. Possessing, purchasing, selling or consuming cannabis before 19 is an offence. Selling or distributing cannabis unless you are an authorized retailer or to anyone under 19 is illegal. You can be fined between $200 and $500,000 and jailed for up to two years less a day for defying the law. 

Caught DUI 

Driving under the influence, smoking in a vehicle or transporting cannabis improperly are all offences. 

Buying and Sharing Cannabis in Ontario

Ontarians over 19 can legally purchase fresh and dried cannabis, cannabis oils, extracts and topicals from authorized provincial or territorial retailers. They can carry or share up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or their equivalents in public:    

  • 150 grams of fresh cannabis
  • 450 grams of edible product
  • 2,100 grams of liquid product
  • five grams of liquid or solid concentrates
  • or 30 cannabis plant seeds.

Exceeding those amounts can result in fines for small infractions or up to five years in prison for serious offences.

Know Your Limits

With edibles being so popular, Ottawa has developed equivalents for how much you can possess of fresh cannabis or products made from it. A gram of dried cannabis is equal to:

  •     five grams of fresh cannabis
  •     15 grams of edibles 
  •     70 grams of liquids 
  •     25 grams of solid or liquid concentrates
  •     or one cannabis plant seed.

Growing or Making Your Own Cannabis Products

Still growing your own? You can possess up to four plants per residence from licensed seeds or seedlings. Food and drinks made from cannabis can also be cooked up at home, provided you are not using organic solvents to concoct concentrated products. Ontario has no limits on the amount of purchased cannabis you can possess at home.

Could Your Landlord Be an Accomplice?

That funny smell coming from your next door neighbours could be illegal. Ontario landlords who knowingly rent a commercial or residential unit for the sale or distribution of cannabis can be charged criminally.

Smoking in the Boys’ Room

Smoking or vaping cannabis in the wrong place is prohibited. Fines under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act are $1,000 for a first offence and $5,000 thereafter. That includes smoking or vaping on school properties and playgrounds or within nine metres of entrances or exits to health care institutions, nursing homes or any public building. Indoor common areas in apartment buildings or university or college residences are also restricted areas. 

Rental Rules for Smoking or Vaping

You can smoke or vape in a rental unit as long as your  current lease or rental agreement doesn’t prohibit it. Landlords can impose a smoking ban on new tenants, except those who use medical marijuana. Balconies are excluded from smoking prohibitions.

Ontario Condos Exempt Unless…

Condo owners and renters 19 and over can smoke or vape any substance unless the condo bylaws, rules or a declaration approved by 80% of owners prevent it. That applies to private units and balonies or outdoor common spaces like rooftop patios, gardens, playgrounds, driveways and sidewalks. Indoor common areas are off limits, including:

  • elevators and stairwells 
  • hallways and lobbies
  • parking garages
  • party or entertainment rooms
  • laundry facilities
  • and exercise areas.

Check that any restrictions specifically mention cannabis. Otherwise, you may have a legal loophole.

When Smoke Gets in Your Neighbours’ Eyes

Neighbourly behaviour has its benefits, including not being evicted. Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, gives landlords the right to evict a tenant whose smoking:

  • interferes with other tenants’ reasonable enjoyment of their unit
  • is a serious safety hazard
  • or damages the unit. 

Landlords are required to minimize smoke-related disturbances to tenants with sensitivities by communicating the problem, ensuring adequate ventilation and sealing cracks and gaps.

Your Vaping and Cannabis Human Rights 

Medical marijuana users can take comfort from the Ontario Human Rights Code. Landlords must accommodate medical marijuana use authorized by a health care professional and remove any barriers unless it causes undue hardship. Before you get too excited, fellow tenants with smoke allergies or chronic health problems have equal rights. 

Are No Smoking Policies Discriminatory?

Second-hand smoke exposure is such a health concern that courts are unlikely to strike down no smoking policies to accommodate smokers, even if nicotine addictions are disabling. Best strategy for landlords: creating a designated smoking area. 

The Takeaway

Before you light up or take a puff, be sure you know your rights.

Ontario Affidavits Witnessed Online 

Axess Law Ontario notaries witness affidavits in landlord-tenant disputes. Online video calls with remote notary publics are available anywhere in Ontario, 7 days a week, day or evening. Schedule a virtual video conference at your convenience by calling toll-free to 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto at 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form. Licensed lawyers can meet with you in person at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s notary public services.


It was a pleasure working with Patricia from Axess Law. It was my first time purchasing a home, and was very nervous about every step in the process. I called and emailed Patricia several times with the silliest questions. She answered them all promptly, and provided the best customer service I could ask for. I would recommend Axess Law and particularly Patricia to everyone.

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Irene Tucker


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