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A man smokes marijuana inside his apartment where he uses a hydroponics system to grow his weed in Mexico City in 2013.

Eduardo Verdugo/The Associated Press

Last week, the charity attached to Toronto's Princess Margaret Cancer Centre withdrew one of the bigger prizes from its annual lottery – a dream house in Markham, Ont.

The home, worth just under $1.3-million, backs onto a property belonging to a medical marijuana grower who cultivates more than 100 pot plants in his house. The problem is the smell.

When you're growing a large number of cannabis plants in an indoor space, things tend to get skunky. It's a longstanding gripe that the neighbourhood smells strongly of weed.

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There's nothing illegal about this particular operation, but its existence highlights some obvious questions as the federal government prepares to legalize marijuana. Namely, who should be allowed to grow pot, how much should they be allowed to cultivate, where, and under what conditions?

Pot proponents point out, not unreasonably, it's not full legalization if you're forbidden from growing your own weed. Lots of people make small amounts of wine or beer in their garage or basement. It's also legal to smoke your own tobacco.

Others argue, not unreasonably, there must be safety and zoning requirements for large cultivating operations, and smaller ones, and they shouldn't be stinking up residential areas. Cities don't allow backyard pig farms or a helipad in the driveway.

There is a line to be drawn somewhere. Ottawa will need to find a way that allows people to grow their own in (very) small amounts, while protecting neighbours from side effects. You don't have the right to put anything like an industrial operation into a residential neighbourhood. This is going to have to be regulated – federally, provincially or municipally.

Some legal-pot jurisdictions allow home growing – including three U.S. states. Others don't. As is too often the case with cannabis policy in this country, the legal picture is muddled. More clarity should come Wednesday after a Federal Court judge rules in a British Columbia case involving medicinal marijuana growers.

But what is clear once again is that legal pot means highly regulated pot, and not a free-for-all. The way Canada ultimately proceeds on the home-grown front will reverberate in the other countries reviewing their drug policies. This merely reinforces the point that it's important for Ottawa to get this right.

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