The Cannabis Closet: Home Invasion, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 22 2013 @ 10:08am

A reader quotes the previous one:

I was told that he did not need a warrant because he had “plain smell”.  I told him that I knew that wasn’t true, and that I was not opening the door without a warrant….

As a former apartment dweller, I would just like to attest that the above is nonsense.  If you smoke in your apartment, I can smell it in the hallway.  When you smoke, some of the odors are absorbed into your carpet, your drapes, your cloth furniture, and your clothing.  And it retains the odor long after you’ve put out your doobie.  Also, most apartments have exhaust fans for one apartment relatively close to intakes for other apartments, so probably your neighbors could smell it in their own units while you’re smoking. And don’t they have rights not have their spaces permeated by your illegal behavior?

Furthermore, many people, me included, have jobs where we get tested for drug use.  I don’t know if second-hand marijuana smoke can cause a false positive, but I sure as heck don’t want to be flagged because my neighbor is a pothead and hasn’t figured out that the smoke is airborne. I don’t think its my responsibility to find out.

My husband smokes regularly, and I find that until he has showered and gone for a pretty significant workout after smoking, I can smell it on him. I clearly don’t have a problem with it – hell, I’m married to someone who smokes regularly. But to try and pretend that it doesn’t smell or impact your neighbor? That’s just insulting. In the meantime, until you can get a space of your own, can I suggest you make brownies? Chocolate aroma bothers no one.

For the record, while I’m not fully on board with your reader’s take on being able to smell the smoke in the hall, I am fully on board with the fact that the cop’s apartment search was wildly inappropriate.

Another:

Your post from the reader whose apartment was searched enraged me.

It has taken me more than 30 years to accept that decriminalizing marijuana is necessary even though I don’t have much tolerance for pot smoking, but I saw no reason for the cops to behave the way they did. I kept wondering why someone hadn’t just complained to the tenant about the marijuana, either face-to-face or anonymously. That’s what I would have done.

But the more I thought about it, the more I became concerned that legalizing marijuana is going to lead to a lot more disputes between neighbors in attached housing. Here’s the problem: construction isn’t necessarily good quality and smoke and odors can go from one person’s space to another. Did this tenant’s marijuana smoke seep through the walls to irritate the neighbor’s asthma or waft up near the baby’s crib? Do some neighbor’s rugs smell like pot smoke whenever the tenant relaxes at home? Is the smoke not bothering the neighbor, per se, but is it making someone’s closet smell like pot, and is that person getting harassed with drug tests at work because they are a teacher’s aide or a crime-and-courts reporter or a hospital cafeteria worker and their supervisor can smell pot on their clothing?

There’s a reason why a lot of people dream of owning the detached house in the suburbs. I have one, but I was widowed a couple of years ago before I hit age 60, and I’m not happy that I may have to live in a townhouse or apartment because I can’t afford this house. I do have problems because my neighbor’s wood smoke sometimes comes down my unused fireplace chimney (even with the flue closed) and fills my first floor with smoke that makes my eyes water and my upholstery smell. I worry that if I rent an apartment I will have noisy neighbors, have to deal with cigarette or cigar – or now, marijuana – smoke, other penetrating odors or volatile chemicals from air fresheners or cleaning products, neighbors who are hoarders, neighbors who burn candles and are careless about fire hazards, or neighbors whose pets cause any of a number of problems.

Now I think there needs to be some candid discussion about marijuana smoke. I am glad smoking tobacco is so restricted these days, and I do think any kind of smoking should be confined to places where it won’t bother someone else. That means if an apartment building is nonsmoking, the nonsmoking rule applies to more than tobacco.

What the police did in Alexandria was despicable. The tenant never deserved such treatment. But maybe the tenant was unaware of some unexpected side effects of their behavior, and so what should have been a polite discussion between tenants turned into a confrontation by proxy by involving the police.