420 with CNW — DC Lawsuit May Set New Marijuana Smell Precedent
Nearly every state with a legal marijuana market has passed an outright ban on the public consumption of cannabis. Both medical marijuana patients and recreational users are only allowed to use cannabis within the confines of their homes, and each state has policies that require consumers to use their cannabis product privately and away from the eyes of the public.
Unfortunately, marijuana has an extremely thick and potent smell that tends to linger in spots without proper ventilation and can be recognized some distance away from the smoker. A Washington, DC, woman whose downstairs neighbor used legal cannabis finally got sick of the potent smell drifting into her home and took legal action. According to Josefa Ippolito-Shepherd, cannabis smoke from her downstairs neighbor constantly drifted up into her retirement home in Cleveland Park, and try as she might, she just couldn’t get rid of the scent.
Her first efforts to alleviate the issue were unsuccessful; her downstairs neighbor refused to stop smoking indoors,, and the landlord refused to evict the neighbor. Since cannabis is now legal under Washington DC law, Ippolito-Shepherd couldn’t call the police and bring criminal charges against the neighbor. In fact, police told her there was nothing they could do for her, and DC council chair Phil Mendelson said that undoing the legalization of cannabis would be the only way to fix her problem.
Consequently, Ippolito-Shepherd took her grievance to the court in August 2022, arguing that the smell of burning marijuana was a public nuisance. This was the first case of its kind against America’s burgeoning cannabis industry, but it may not be the last.
With most states now allowing some form of cannabis, there have been plenty of complaints regarding the strong scent of marijuana smoke. Worries about second-hand exposure to the smoke by people neighboring smokers, dispensaries and marijuana farms is also a concern.
The issue is tricky. Smokers say that complaints such as these impede their ability to enjoy medical or recreational cannabis within the confines of their own homes while nonsmokers argue that the smell is noxious and potentially harmful to their health.
Ippolito-Shepherd said that she has the “right to breath fresh air” in her own home, adding that she has no problem with people smoking cannabis in their own homes, but she just doesn’t want the smoke invading her home. She is asking Washington, DC, to ban indoor cannabis smoking in multiunit buildings, something that is bound to have nationwide repercussions if her efforts are successful.
California NORML director Dale Gieringer noted that cities in California are already considering the prospect of banning cannabis smoking in residential buildings and apartments to prevent secondhand smoke. San Fransisco also considered banning smoking in apartments, but the city did not pass a smoking ban after activists pointed out that cannabis users are already banned from smoking in public.
This lawsuit could have serious ramifications for the entire marijuana industry, and it is likely that enterprises such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) are keeping tabs on proceedings to know how it pans out.
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