What to do when your neighbors complain about the smell of weed

Published Sep 1, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / AaronAmat

The smell of cannabis, be it burning, in storage, or growing is something that most cannabis enthusiasts say that they thoroughly enjoy, but a lot of that is because we associate the scent with a feeling of euphoria that we love so much. For others, and, non-cannabis consumers, the smell of weed is more of a stench that can be strong, overwhelming, and straight-up gross.

That’s why the smell of cannabis is so often referred to as skunky, because to the untrained nose, the two can be easily confused, leaving anyone who is in the vicinity confused and yet aware of its presence. This is a problem that cannabis consumers have faced for what feels like forever, as it wasn’t too long ago that just having the plant was illegal, but now that so many are openly growing and smoking it, it’s time that we brush up on some good old fashioned neighborly etiquette.

If you have a neighbor or roommate who has voiced their concerns about the smell, or if you’re worried about the possibility of your consumption habits getting in the way of your neighbors quality of life, then this is the perfect place to be. Follow these five steps, if you want to do your best to maintain what is likely to be a long-lasting friendship with those around you because you just never know when you might need the same respect in a different situation that may arise down the road.

1. Don’t be offended

The first and most important thing to remember if your neighbors ever approach you with this type of issue is to be understanding of the problem that someone else might have with such a strong smell. It’s really easy to get all offended when a person takes issue with your choice of lifestyle, but this is the perfect opportunity for teaching and relationship building, and it’s important for both of your sake, that you take it and process it as a valid concern that deserves your utmost attention.

2. Tackle the problem head-on and with grace

When a neighbor brings the smell of your cannabis plants or toking to your attention, how you respond will set the mood for how your entire relationship will be going forward, and if you want to truly be accommodating, this is the best time to figure out what it is that you can do to help. Is there a particular place where they smell it, or is it a sensitivity to the smoke itself that is causing the problem? The first phase of negotiation should be a learning curb that lets you know how they feel and why, and you’ll want to encourage it in a positive way as much as possible.

3. Make as many adjustments as you can


If the issue is that your growing and maturing plants are giving off too strong of a smell, then you can promise to stick to low odor strains of weed in the future, and if it’s an indoor grow then you can make an adjustment like adding a deodorizer, or a carbon scrubber to remove much of the smell, and if you’ve got your plants outdoors, then oftentimes a cheap greenhouse could be a solution that keeps all parties happy. If it’s the smoke, then keep it outside, or test out a spoof for effectiveness. Though it’s more work, it’s worth it, as it will avoid upsetting those who live near you.

4. Maintain open and honest dialog about the issue

So you’ve spoken with your neighbor, and you feel like you’ve addressed the problem, but at this point, there is truly no way to know until you ask, which is why it is so important to maintain an open and honest dialogue going forward. That way, they feel comfortable enough to come to you in the future if they are bothered by something, and so that you can show what a good neighbor you are by caring about what they need to enjoy their own space. This is also a great opportunity to open up about why you choose to use cannabis, which might be enough to change their mind about the severity of the issue.

5. Come to a mutual understanding and agreement

The goal throughout all of your talks and adjustments should be to come to a mutual agreement that leaves both parties happy, and this is going to take time and energy to achieve. So be sure to keep at it until you know for certain that your love for cannabis isn’t impeding on those who live around you. After all, no one wants to be a bad neighbor, and everyone deserves the opportunity to feel safe and comfortable in their home, so it is essential that everyone works together to make that happen.

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