Cannabis may be legal, but one northern Ontario town wants to pass a law against smelly pot plants

One northern Ontario town is looking for a way to make smelly cannabis plants illegal. West Nipissing council wants to draft a bylaw to regulate the odour from marijuana plants.

Town council to debate proposed bylaw at meeting next month

West Nipissing is considering a bylaw that would put restrictions on the smell coming from the legal cannabis plants being grown in the town. (Erik White/CBC )

One northern Ontario town is looking for a way to make smelly cannabis plants illegal.

West Nipissing council wants to draft a bylaw to regulate the odour from plants that citizens can legally grow themselves. 

Councillor Lise Senecal put the issue on the table after getting complaints from several residents in Sturgeon Falls.

"I didn't even have to get out. I just rolled down my window," she says of going to check out the skunk-like stink.

"It's a very strong smell. I could have gotten a buzz."

She says the right to enjoy your own property is a "basic right" and wants to see cannabis smell listed as a nuisance in a town bylaw, similar to what the City of Hamilton has already passed.

"I'm a firm believer that everyone has their rights. I mean, I have the right to drink beer, but I don't have the right to throw the can of beer at the neighbour or make party at all times of day or night," says Senecal, who would like to see the restriction apply only in residential areas.

West Nipissing councillor Jeremy Seguin is worried this adds to the town's "conservative" approach to legal weed. It is one of the few municipalities in northeastern Ontario where smoking a joint on the sidewalk is illegal, but smoking tobacco is not. 

"It's something that was demonized for so many years and legally it switched over, but I don't think psychologically everyone was ready for the switchover," he says.

Seguin says it's very tricky for a municipality to regulate smells and compares unpleasant cannabis odours with those coming from the farm fields that surround his home village of Verner.

"So there's a definite smell that goes on there and it's yearly. Nobody complains about it, because that's part and parcel," he says. 

"If you're living in Verner, you know this is going to happen, you know you're going to get the smell and it's an acceptable nuisance."

West Nipissing council is expected to debate the proposed bylaw at a meeting in early June. 


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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