Secondhand Pot Smoke a Growing Issue in Cities and Counties

With open marijuana use becoming more common, so too are complaints about the wafting smell and concerns over secondhand smoke.

A number of local governments, including Sonoma County and the City of San Luis Obispo, have cannabis odor ordinances on the books. But these typically pertain to commercial businesses, such as dispensaries and grow operations. When it comes to people smoking in the house or apartment next door, law enforcement’s hands are largely tied.

Some municipalities are beginning to take the complaints more seriously.

"We plan to take a look at this issue in greater depth in the coming months," Joe Devlin, commercial cannabis czar in Sacramento, told Politifact

In the meantime, Sacramento police recommend neighbors try to work it out between themselves. Renters seem to be in a slightly better position because they can bring their complaints to a landlord, who can restrict cannabis use around the property. Many landlords remain unaware that this is the case and incorrectly inform lessees that they have no recourse when a complaint is made.

Aside from the nuisance angle, physicians say concerned tenants do have a case to make.

"A lot is not known but what I think most people ignore is that cigarette smoke is a lot more than just nicotine and marijuana smoke is a lot more than just cannabinoids," said Dr. Matthew Springer, a researcher in cardiovascular disease at UC San Francisco. "And all those chemicals— there’s thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke, and they’re basically there in the marijuana smoke."

Breathe easy.