Strata Alert: Ontario Court orders marijuana grow to repay strata for increased utility costs

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Strata Alert:  Ontario Court orders marijuana grow to repay strata for increased utility costs

Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation No. 659 v. Chris Truman, [2015] O.J. No. 4500 (Small Claims Ct.).


Paul G. Mendes, Partner
Phone:  604-685-4894

This is an interesting condominium law case from Ontario.  Although it has no direct application to British Columbia, it does hint at a possible remedy for strata faced with increased utility and insurance expenses as a result of “licensed” medical marijuana production facilities.

But first a little background on the confusing medical marijuana regime in Canada.

The production and distribution of medical marijuana were formerly governed by the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR).  Under the MMAR, people could grow medical marijuana for themselves (known as a Personal Use Production License) and for other people with licenses (known as a Designated-Person Production License).

The MMAR was repealed and replaced in March of 2014 by the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).  The MMPR abolished all of the MMAR licenses and established the current regime, whereby licensed users can buy their medicine from licensed large-scale growers by mail. The new MMPR basically makes it illegal for people to grow their own medical marijuana, even if they have a license to possess and consume it.

On March 21, 2014, the Federal Court of Canada granted an injunction preserving the rights of individuals with Personal Use Production Licenses under the MMAR to continue growing until a constitutional challenge to the MMPR is heard.

And this brings us to the decision in MTCC No. 659 v. Chris Truman.

Mr. Truman had a Personal Use Production License issued under MMAR.  In other words, he had a license to produce medical marijuana for himself. The license was tied to his condominium unit and he could not move it, so he continued to grow the medicine for himself at MTCC No 659. It turns out, however, that he was able to grow a rather large quantity of marijuana for personal use under that license.  As a result, his one unit consumed the same amount of water as all the other units combined.

As permitted under Ontario condominium law, the condominium corporation had a declaration requiring the corporation to pay for water usage except for commercial and industrial use. The strata corporation argued that Mr. Truman’s water consumption was on a commercial scale. Mr. Truman countered that his water usage was “personal” as per his Personal Use Production License under the MMAR.

The judge was reluctant to characterize Mr. Truman’s facility as a commercial operation because doing so would result in a finding that Mr. Truman was an illegal drug trafficker.  The judge concluded that the Ontario small claims court had no jurisdiction to make such a finding.  The judge did agree, however, that Mr. Truman’s water usage was not the kind of “personal use” contemplated by the declaration. The court found that it would be unfair, if not an unjust enrichment, to permit Mr. Truman to burden the other owners with increased common expenses that were never contemplated declaration. As a result, the court ordered Mr. Truman to pay the strata corporation $19,000 plus costs.

Now as I noted above, this case has no direct application in BC. It does, however, raise an interesting argument that may work here at home. BC strata with licensed grow facilities are usually faced with increased utility and insurance expenses. Is it possible for owners in those strata to argue that it is significantly unfair for them to bear the burden of the increased costs associated with the licensed medical marijuana production facility? Sadly (or happily depending on your position in the debate) we may never know the answer. Why? Because the confusing and complicated medical marijuana regime established by the previous federal government will soon be undone, either by the courts or by the current federal government.

WHAT WE DO: Lesperance Mendes advises strata owners and strata corporations on all aspects of bylaw enforcement and bylaw amendments. If you have an unusual bylaw enforcement problem and would like our skilled advice and representation, contact me at 604-685-4894 or by email at

Lesperance Mendes Lawyers
900 Howe St #550, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2M4
(604) 685-3567