Realtor frets about pot damage to homes

Legalizing marijuana could mean people more people will grow pot, which may hurt real estate sales, say city and national realty ­officials.

The looming federal legislation to legalize cannabis use also states people can grow up to four plants at home. But each pot plant can grow to more than six feet and yield four crops a year, posing a risk of water and mold damage inside a home, said Costa Poulopoulos, a London realtor who also is director of the Ontario region for the Canadian Real Estate Association and a board member of the Ontario Real Estate Association - writes

“There will be consequences of growing marijuana in homes. It does not sound like a lot, only four plants, but they can do a lot of damage,” said Poulopoulos.

“It’s really a mini grow-op.”

Considering the height of the plants and potential number there is a risk of damage to the homes considering the amount of water and heat required, he said.

What is needed are guidelines from Ottawa that demand those growing pot in their homes disclose what was done in the home and if there is damage, or steps to remediate, he said.

“Grow-ops have infrastructure consequences and there are no standards on how to remediate. no registry for damaged properties,” said Poulopoulos.

Realtors are seeing potential home buyers walk away from a property if marijuana has been grown there even if it is legal, for medical use for example, he ­added.

“There is a problem with stigma, but there may also be an issue with mold and air quality issues. If a buyer has a young family, they will have concerns,” said Poulopoulos.

A task force appointed by the Canadian government to study the legalization of marijuana recommended each person of legal age can grow up to four plants at home. It also recommended a height restriction on plants but that has since been removed, although some provinces are implementing their own.

The Canadian Real Estate Association is lobbying the federal government to include requirements that a home seller must disclose if pot was grown in the house, and create standards for remediation if there has been damage, said Randall McCauley, vice-president of government and public relations at the Canadian Real Estate Association.

There will be further government hearings on the issue before July, when cannabis use is expected to be made legal, and the association will be at the table, he said.

“We are looking for them to address this issue somehow. The legislation is good at dealing with the consequences of illegal distribution but on home growing, it is silent,” he said.

“There has to be consequences. There has to be a penalty.”

Unlike some other plants grown indoors, cannabis requires heat and a lot of moisture, making conditions ideal for damage to the infrastructure of a home.

He also fears that when plants are mature, they can give off a smell that can linger in a home and turn off home buyers.

“It is super humid, super damp,” where cannabis is grown, McCauley said.

Anne McLellan, a former Liberal cabinet minister, was chairperson of the task force.

“Governments needs to take a look at this at all levels,” said Poulopoulos. “We are looking for direction and clarity. It has fallen under the radar.”

Now, some cannabis users are allowed to grow plants at home, as long as it is for medical use and they have approval from Health Canada, said Crystal Ramdharry, medical supervisor for Bodystream Medical Marijuana Services on Wharcnliffe Road in London.

“We have physicians approving grow-your-own through Health Canada. It is something that can be managed, as long as people are only allowed to grow so much,” said Ramdharry.

Health Canada restricts the amount that can be grown, depending on the applicant’s needs, but most are in the two to four plants range, she said .

Bodystream assists applicants on how to apply to Health Canada, she added.

Marijuana legalization

  • Marijuana set to become legal July1, 2018.
  • Must be 19 years old or older to buy, use or grow marijuana.
  • To start, marijuana to be sold from 40 stores in Ontario run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, including one in London.
  • Can’t use marijuana in public places, at the office, or in vehicles.
  • Proposed excise tax would add $1 a gram of marijuana or 10 per cent of producer’s sales price; sales tax calculated on top of that.

    Read also more news of London on our city guide.
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