What REALTORS® need to know about cannabis grow operations

More than a year has passed since the federal Cannabis Act came into effect, allowing Canadians to legally purchase, grow and use a limited quantity of cannabis for recreational purposes.

So, what does the legalization of recreational cannabis mean for REALTORS®?

The Cannabis Act, a key item from the Liberal’s 2015 platform, permits adults to cultivate up to four cannabis plants per household, with some provinces and territories applying added restrictions. REALTORS® are now more likely than ever to encounter a property in which cannabis has been grown, or where tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been extracted from cannabis plants.

With that in mind, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have collaborated to bring you a handy guide: Cannabis Grow Operations: What REALTORS® Need to Know.

The RCMP’s contribution was provided by their Federal Policing Prevention and Engagement team, who noted: “This informative guide is intended to better equip REALTORS® with the knowledge required to identify and respond to today’s illicit cannabis grow operations and extraction labs. We hope this information contributes to raising awareness to keep you and your neighbourhoods safe, secure and healthy.”

Illicit cannabis grow operations (CGOs)—any location converted for the purpose of growing cannabis plants—are found in cities and small rural communities. This guide will make you aware of the dangers associated with these types of CGOs, as well as what to look for when showing or viewing a property, such as:

  • Humidity issues: The high humidity and temperatures necessary for a grow operation can lead to the formation of damaging mould and fungus. It can also cause the warping of wood components, including staircases, handrails, floors, roof joists, and studs.
  • Structural integrity: Modifications to a residence serving as a CGO, such as alterations made to furnace vents and hot water heaters, are very common and may affect the structural integrity of the house
  • Electrical risks: Electrical bypasses and rewiring performed by unqualified individuals can result in dangerous electrical hazards. The use of enormous amounts of electricity, combined with illegal tampering of electrical systems and heat generated by high-intensity light bulbs can lead to fires.

The guide also contains disclosure requirements for listing agents, buying agents and dual agents, as well as frequently asked questions and other information concerning CGOs and cannabis extraction labs.

To order physical copies of this, or other CREA publications please visit REALTOR Link®.

Please note that province and territories may have their own rules/requirements with respect to cannabis. You may wish to seek legal advice or contact your provincial regulator or real estate association if you have any questions.

Pascal Chan is the former Government Relations Manager at CREA. Born and raised in the nation’s capital, Pascal has (unsurprisingly) worked at various federal government departments prior to beginning his career in politics as a consultant lobbyist. He is fluent in both official languages, and occasionally attempts to show off what remains of his Cantonese. When he’s not rubbing shoulders with Ottawa’s political elite, Pascal can be found cycling around the downtown core or in the supporter’s section during Fury FC matches.

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