Marijuana could be legal in Canada as early as next summer, and landlords are already concerned that new laws could pose risks to their property.

The federal government is expected to announce this month that pot will be legalized by July 1, 2018. The expected new laws will allow Canadian residents to grow up to four plants at home.

But some landlords are worried that those new liberties could put their property at risk, and are calling on the feds to give owners authority over whether their tenants are allowed to grow pot.

"This product doesn't belong to be grown or smoked, frankly, in rental apartments," said David Hutniak, president of Landlord B.C.

David Hutniak

David Hutniak is concerned that the presence of marijuana in rental properties will increase the risk of damage and limit access to insurance coverage. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Where there's smoke, there's fire

Hutniak is concerned that allowing four plants to be grown per household could lead to significant damages that will ultimately cost homeowners.

His calls come after a recent CBC Go Public article that outlined the difficulties landlords face obtaining homeowners insurance when their tenants run legal grow-ops without their consent.

Under most basic home insurance policies, marijuana-related damages or anything that companies believe to be high risk is not covered.

In turn, medical marijuana patients are legally allowed to grow plants in their home without their landlord's consent. It is unclear whether that right will carry over to basic users once cannabis is legalized — but Hutniak fears that landlords will have little control over the growth of cannabis in their homes.

"We still feel strongly that as this legalization process goes forward, the federal government needs to talk to our industry. They really haven't," he said.

Hutniak says growing in rental units should be banned unless landlords specify otherwise.

No different than house plants?

But marijuana advocate Dana Larsen questions Hutniak's rationale — especially considering residents will be limited to just four plants.

"You can grow four plants in four buckets of soil on your patio," he said, adding that there's little danger and threat to property with small-scale operations. "There are some pretty safe self-contained growing methods."

danalarsenpotadvocate

Dana Larsen is the former editor of Cannabis Culture and one of Vancouver's most well-known marijuana advocates. (Meera Bains)

In contrast. Larsen says many shoddy and dangerous grow-ops are the result of prohibition.

"With legalization, it will be much easier to cover and maintain [plants] because the threat of prohibition isn't forcing people to hide."

He says if landlords can't keep you from growing house plants, they shouldn't be able to keep you from growing cannabis.

"I think it should be treated like any other plant."

With files from CBC's B.C. Almanac