Woman's allergy prompts Mississauga condo to ban pot, despite residents voting it down

A condo building has banned smoking or growing weed unless someone has a medical licence for it, even though residents voted against the move. The complex is going ahead with the ban because a resident has a severe pot allergy.

Resident says she has deadly allergy to cannabis, board had to find resolution

Adele Schroder, who has a potentially lethal allergy to cannabis, was relieved to hear her condo board banned marijuana smoking. (Grant Linton/CBC)

A condo board in Mississauga, Ont. has banned the smoking and growing of marijuana in the building's units and common spaces after finding out one woman has a potentially lethal allergy to it, despite its residents voting against the rule.

Applewood Place, at Dixie Road and Bloor Street, first tried to pass a rule in April to ban pot in the building, but owners voted it down. Then, it came to the board's attention a resident in the building, Adele Schroder, had a potentially lethal allergy to it. The board sent a notice to residents about the rule change Monday night, less than a week after CBC Toronto published a story about Schroder.

The 38-year-old discovered the allergy at a house party in her university years at Mount Allison in New Brunswick when people smoked up around her.

She says her tongue started to swell, and her eyes got itchy, among other symptoms. In recent months, she started noticing residents were becoming less careful of hiding the fact they were smoking pot. 

Am I going to not wake up at all?- Adele Schroder

"It's one thing I'm outside and see people in a park. I can make a decision not to go in the park," she said. "It's another to worry that if i go to sleep on a Friday night and somebody near me has a party, am I going to wake up not able to breathe or am I going to not wake up at all?" 

Schroder has been putting towels under her door, running two air purifiers in her unit and takes her EpiPen with her at all times. 

Competing rights 

Schroder's allergy made the smoking ban an issue of competing human rights, as there were also a number of medical marijuana users in the building. 

The notice residents received about the ban was from the property manager, who declined an interview, along with the condo board president. 

The letter stated the board passed resolutions that deemed cannabis odour an "unreasonable nuisance" under the condo rules, and that it creates a "hazardous condition" under the Condominium Act, so it took steps to restrict pot smoking in the units and common areas, including balconies for "life safety reasons." 

The property manager for Applewood Place sent this letter to residents Monday evening. (Provided by Adele Schroder)

But the letter made an exception for medicinal marijuana users, saying it would balance competing interests if those users informed the board. 

"I'm very much relieved," said Schroder. "It left the onus on me to make sure, any time I left the unit, or anytime, I could be affected and I could die. Doing it this way makes everyone responsible for their own actions." 

'Set a precedent'

Schroder's lawyer Denise Lash said the case "set a precedent" as she had not heard of nor encountered someone intolerant to cannabis like her client. "It has set a precedent," said Lash. "It's outside the rules procedure. The corporation has a complete ban ... even though there was no specific rule that prevented it." 

Marc Bhalla, a condo mediator in Toronto, said he expects there will likely be more "unique" situations once marijuana is legalized Oct. 17.

"I wonder how many different types of unique circumstances will arise when you're looking at things like competing human rights or serious health concerns," he said, applauding the way the condo board handled the situation. 

It's outside the rules procedure.- Denise Lash, condo lawyer

"I find, when people take an approach of trying to work together and understand each other, they can reach better solutions and sometimes more creative ones," he said. 

Lash says the only way owners can challenge the decision now is if they take the condo board to court, though she suspects it isn't likely they would win. 

For now, Schroder says she will continue to take precautions inside her home until she feels other residents are following the new rules. 

"I do have to take some responsibility for my own health," she said.

About the Author

Lisa Xing

Lisa Xing is a journalist by trade and a historian by degree. She's also a creative writer, photographer and traveller, dabbling in camping, canoeing and crafting. Email Lisa.Xing@cbc.ca.