2nd Hand Marijuana Smoke where Pot/Weed is Legal

47 Replies

This question was inspired by the discussion entitled "Caught Tenant Smoking Weed" started by @Faisal Farnas

As marijuana becomes legal in more U.S. states, many landlords and homeowners will find themselves facing this scenario.
What would you do? A neighbor who now can legally smoke pot, in my city/state, is smoking inside their house (or unit) or outside on the front or back porch. The smoke drifts onto the porch or balcony and into the unit or property next door, disturbing a neighbor who doesn't smoke. On the other side, a neighbor has a medical condition that requires them to use an oxygen tank. These tenants complain to you because they can't call the police, and when  they protest to the smoking neighbors, it brings only silence and angry looks.

One neighbor is adamant about exercising their legal right to smoke weed in and around their home, while the other neighbors want to breathe clean air in theirs.

I'll appreciate your responses and advice because this is based on a true story.

While I have zero problem with my tenants smoking weed, I do have a problem with them doing non discreetly and bothering the neighbors with it. Remember while it is legal under District law, it is still illegal under Federal law, and we have a lot of Federal law enforcement officers roaming the area. At any point any of them, or any federal prosecutor can decide to ignore the administration's policy of ignoring this and decide to be a d#ck and enforce the law. We live in an area where there is a high likelihood that at some point someone who is politically ambitious will do just that and have someone arrested and prosecuted for thumbing their nose at federal law.

Even where it is legal the same laws that apply to smoking cigarettes apply to weed and for that matter vaporizing anything. If it's a "no smoking" area, that includes weed. if smoking is allowed, that also includes legal marijuana.

Most legal marijuana laws specify that it must be done in private. If somebody else knows you are doing it, then it isn't private and probably not legal.

@Cheryl Crockett I simply wouldn't respond to the complaining tenant. I send my tenant's calls straight to voicemail for many reasons, one of which is to screen out non-sense complaints like this. If it's not illegal, and it bothers them that much, they're free to move out. 

Maybe the tenant with the medical condition..could use some weed ;)

Every tenant has a right to the reasonable enjoyment of their home. Whether it is regular cigarette smoke or Marijuana if it is disturbing a tenant you ,as the landlord, have the authority to prevent the smoker from disturbing non smokers.

No one has a right to disturb others and landlords have the obligation to insure that no tenant is disturbed. If someone is being bothered by the smoking, or any other activity, of another tenant and that tenant refuses to respect a request to stop disturbing others the landlord has the right to evict. 

It is the right of all tenant to have reasonable enjoyment.

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As a landlord what do you do about the jackasses that grow next door to you and you have to smell the stench for 5 months at a time. I have complained numerous times to local authorities; law enforcement turns a blind eye because there is no way they have the manpower to enforce growing limits and law enforcement most likely get kickbacks from growers to keep their mouths shut.  It would be great if they used drones to shut down some of the neighborhood grow operations but I realize there are surveillance limits and it infringes on "rights." 

Originally posted by @Vic French :

As a landlord what do you do about the jackasses that grow next door to you and you have to smell the stench for 5 months at a time.

It's just a plant - get over it. The stench can't be that bad growing outside. Smoke is much different. And there is no chance what so ever that the smell can harm somebody or make them high. There are also flowers that smell like rotting corpses, you should be glad your neighbors aren't growing those.

For that matter there is a field across the street from me where they grow 100 acres of a plant I'm severely allergic to. It's tough titties for me. Every summer I can't breathe because of it.

@Vic French and @Account Closed

I appreciate both of your contributions to this thread (and others). I want you to know that I once was that tenant with a baby and young child in a rented house. After neighbors in the basement moved in, we began to wake up most mornings to pot smoke rising through the vents in our units. I complained to the landlord but he did nothing. My only response was to hand him a letter of notice to vacate. He wanted me to stay, but didn't have the intestinal fortitude to take action that would help me protect the air I and my children were breathing.

Today I am the next door neighbor to a house full of people who are not allowed to smoke inside their house, but they can smoke on the front porch or out back, and I smell it, even when the windows and doors are closed. Because we own our houses, I don't have a landlord or law enforcement to help me.

And my elderly neighbor, with the oxygen tank, has a restriction: smoking around her and her tank is a fire/explosion hazard I think. I believe her illness is because she was exposed to too much smoke in her life, so "smoking" marijuana isn't the answer for her (maybe someone will take her some brownies).

Its just a plant, yeah, yeah, yeah.....but when you go to sell your property you have to disclose and it affects your property values; at least in CA.  Maybe it wouldn't be an issue in rural areas but in my backyard its an issue.

Actually @Vic French

Because of how the DC law is set up, I have little experience with the presence of living marijuana plants, because there is a legal limit to how many plants any private individual can own. This law was enacted here at the same time that marijuana became legal. There is an exception for the legal dispensaries, of course.

I am grateful that I am able to say I have never smelled a live marijuana plant, but I am sorry I cannot relate to your situation.

Originally posted by @Vic French :

Its just a plant, yeah, yeah, yeah.....but when you go to sell your property you have to disclose and it affects your property values; at least in CA.  Maybe it wouldn't be an issue in rural areas but in my backyard its an issue.

 That is totally incorrect. There is nothing you have to disclose to anybody about marijuana.

@Thomas S. Thank you so much for your response.

Your words are what I was hoping someone would write.

But, because I am in a situation where I feel helpless, I couldn't quite put it into words.

Ultimately, if I rent out this house (or even a part of it), I will face this dilemma.

I will refer back to what you wrote so diplomatically.

Thank you again.

If neighbors have reported pungent, strong skunk weed smell and it has been investigated, it is on police records because they have to investigate and write a report. Any prospective owner that does research on the property is going to discover police reports relating to the fact. Public records. Maybe not in your state? My realtor told me it affects your property value, this was the case a couple years ago, but perhaps laws have changed recently. Any CA realtors know about this and what the law states? This is a person that has a permit to grow 25 plants outdoors; doesn't affect him regardless of how much he grows but affects everyone else in the neighborhood. With 2-6 ft. fences and dogs who is going to have access to his property unless he lets them in... which doesn't happen. This is residential neighborhood growing not rural country.  It's become a convenient way for deadbeats to avoid income tax here. 

Originally posted by @Vic French :

If neighbors have reported pungent, strong skunk weed smell and it has been investigated, it is on police records because they have to investigate and write a report.

Again, this is not something you have to "disclose" to anybody at any time. Most people will not search this deep when buying or especially renting a house - a google search will not find this result, it would be something they would have to pay to get the report for. 

Most people, especially in California, aren't nearly as paranoid and scared of weed as you are. Most people, when they find a record of legal marijuana being grown near by won't care.

It's funny, some people get paranoid when they smoke weed, others are just naturally that way. A bowl or two would go a long way in calming you down.

PS - just because a realtor told you something, doesn't make it a fact.

My realtor is a personal friend and one of the best in the county Ryan, end of discussion.

@Vic French
People who smoke marijuana indoors enough to trigger a "police investigation record" on a house (your house has a police record?) are a tiny minority when compared to tens (perhaps hundreds) of millions of people who keep animals indoors.
When I walk through an animal owner's house, I always decrease my offer significantly because I know every surface needs to be replaced, and I've even had to replace the subfloor. Animal smells never go away. Marijuana smells do. You and your realtor are paranoid weirdos.

This is to say I have a couple friends in Lake Co. who have had tenants in their units that have smoked pot heavily and every surface is discolored and the smell is in everything; not to mention fire risk from growing indoors. To each his own but this is getting far too nasty a discussion. Each person has their own opinion or agenda on this topic. Thanks everyone for sharing.

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I believe this is a discussion that must continue, because laws are changing; no doubt, many will change in just a couple of days, home owners and landlords will face the issue of smoking (whatever) and growing (whatever) on or near their property.

There is much passion on both sides as well as some valid arguments on both sides. Willingness to engage in discussion helps us all in the end.

I can only speak about where I live, but smoking inside a unit in an apartment building is illegal--no matter the substance. If it's wafting into a neighboring unit, that's not cool and I think it's justifiable to take action against a tenant for it.

And this is coming from someone living in an extremely liberal city who thinks marijuana should be 100% legal.

Can your tenant use a vaporizer? The smell from those dissipates almost immediately and doesn't have nearly the reach of smoke. Just thinking of options to make everybody happy.

I put a provision in my lease that explicitly prohibits smoking of tobacco and non-tobacco products, both indoors and outdoors.  There are ways other than smoking to consume marijuana.  IMO, this prohibition is completely reasonable because smoking creates unnecessary fire hazards, disturbs others, and detracts from the condition of the property.

@Chris May
I totally agree. Inconsiderate smokers are idiots. Both in the sense they harm their health (their choice, I do not oppose) as well as create an offensive and potentially harmful environment for those around (I very much oppose).

Having said that, I still think that growing marijuana on a property is far more benign than smoking or keeping animals indoors. As @Account Closed mentioned, sometimes people have to deal with allergens such as lawn grass or other non-drug plants. The thing is, those offenses go away after a time, as does marijuana plant odor. Damage from smoking and indoor animals is permanent.

In conclusion, I do agree that this is a constructive discussion. It doesn't help anyone to lump different activities under a "decreased property value" blanket.

This discussion should only be relegatged to what does a landlord do.  You are limited in most cases to what is in and what isn't in your lease. Bottom line: you are not going to make everyone happy so you have to mitigage the loss here.  One tenant pissing off the other two & everyone thinks they have the right to do what they wish in their "space". In your case first thing I am doing is meeting with my legal counsel to determine what rights I may exercise to evict  the offending party. Then I will be sitting with the "offender" to discuss the lack of civility/concern towards neighbors and present my solutions based upon legal counsels review.  Much easier to replace one tenant than lose 2 more quality tenants.  Frankly, as a long term hold investor I take lead on the environment created in any asset I lease out.  The tenant pool is deep, my vetting process thorough if there is a "cancer"  within it gets removed.  That may be a bit "cold" but I learned long ago, emotions will eat you up in this business, and that's what it is, your business.  Cannot allow problems to fester.  Good Luck 

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