How do I kill this weed?
October 26, 2013 8:05 PM   Subscribe

Living in an apartment building and the hallways are smelling like marijuana. Like strong enough to choke on it. This is not the first time.

My roommate and I are both disgusted by the smell and don't want it choking up the hallways. Frankly, the smell of pot makes me kinda sick. This was a common occurrence for about a month over the summer until I left an angry note in the stairwell. Not sure if it stopped and is just restarting or if the timing was off enough and we just didn't smell it. If it becomes a recurring issue again, we need to do something to resolve it. We'd like to do so as quickly and easily as possible while not attaching our names to anything official like a police report or a complaint to the landlord.
posted by Flashbullzeye to Human Relations (31 answers total)
What state are you in? I mean, it's extremely possible that the people who are smoking are doing it illegally, but 20 states have medicinal laws. The only solution would be for you to move out, I think.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:08 PM on October 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

How about an anonymous letter to your landlord?
posted by Specklet at 8:09 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a life-long apartment dweller, I feel like "unpleasant smells in common areas" are just something you have to live with. If the smell isn't getting into your apartment, I'm not sure there's anything you can do about it, short of leaving passive aggressive notes or moving.
posted by colin_l at 8:10 PM on October 26, 2013 [10 favorites]

most pot smokers over about 20 years old don't want people to smell their smoke. since you don't want to do anything official and you don't seem inclined to hold your breath for 5 seconds, maybe start mentioning to random neighbors while picking up the mail, "the hallway is sure smoky sometimes! i wish landlord would redo the weather stripping!" you don't even need to mention weed, the offenders should realize they need to be a little more subtle.
posted by nadawi at 8:23 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Even if it is legal, it common courtesy to burn a freaking candle. If that doesn't do it, they can open a window a crack and put a towel under the door.

I wouldn't leave an angry note, though. That makes you sound more puritanical and easy to dismiss as uptight. Speaking as a pothead, I would prefer a note that went along the lines of, 'hey, my parents come to visit and the weed smells freak them out.'

But yeah, I would ultimately accept that, like with cigarette smoke, there's not a whole lot you can do. I would get grossed out by the food smells at another place I lived, but I wouldn't consider trying to get somebody to stop eating cabbage every day.
posted by angrycat at 8:46 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

OP's roommate here. We are not in a state where it's legal. I want to clarify the question -- this is the first time I've smelled it, after over a year in this building. I was away over the summer. I believe it is coming from one unit in my hallway, and that they are new residents.

The problem we have with an official complaint is that we don't want our neighbor trying to take revenge if they figure out we're the one who got them in trouble. So the question is more, what's the normal course of action here.

I don't care if someone's smoking in their apartment, I just don't want to smell it. Our building is intended by the property management company to be smoke free, pet free, etc. Should we just suggest they put a towel under their unit door? Complain (anonymously) to the property management? Basically, what's the best course of action to keep this from happening again?
posted by DoubleLune at 8:48 PM on October 26, 2013

Our building is intended by the property management company to be smoke free

If this is something that is spelled out in your lease or rental agreement -- that no smoking of any kind is allowed indoors -- then you might want to drop a note to your property management company letting them know that people are smoking in their units. You don't need to specify that it's pot.

See if the issue persists; if it's a rare event, I'd be inclined to let it slide.
posted by nacho fries at 9:26 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

In a smoke-free building, this is an uncool situation. I would drop an anonymous letter to the property manager and see if that helps. I don't give two shits about what anyone's doing in their apartment, but if the entire hallway stinks of it then you have every right to complain.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:36 PM on October 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

Are you sure of what apartment it's coming from? Could you just go over and talk to them, like you would if they had really loud music on?
posted by windykites at 10:16 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Leave a note. You don't have to be angry or go into how the smoke is disgusting or whatever marijuana value judgement. Just let them know that it's not cool to do this (or let their smoke leak out into) common space. "Hey stoner friends, I have [athsma, allergies, whatever] and smoke in the common hallways makes me sick. Please keep it in your apartment. Thanks, your neighbor."
posted by moonlight on vermont at 10:36 PM on October 26, 2013 [7 favorites]

Put a rolled-up towel under their door (in front) and leave one of those plug-in air fresheners, tied up with a ribbon. Leave a card with a big smiley face on one side, and 'Welcome! Thanks for being a courteous smoker!' on the other.

If they don't stop, leave a card with the number of the local police on one side, and 'Did you think we'd ask nicely twice?' on the other.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:55 AM on October 27, 2013

Part of the problem here is, a lot of people feel that their marijuana smoking isn't hurting anyone, and that anyone who objects to it is merely some kind of puritanical buzz-kills: smokers are cool, and anti-smokers are uptight. That's untrue: a LOT of us hate it for other reasons --- I once got rid of a roommate after they told me I was 'faking it' when their smoking was *literally* making me vomit.

Go ahead and leave a note at the apartment you suspect it's coming from; tape it to their door or shove it under; address it to "Apt. x" if you don't know their names. If you want to, mention methods of reducing the smoke in the halls, but don't bother with gifting them with things rolled-up towels or scented candles --- it's not YOUR job to abate THEIR smoke.

Write that it's a non-smoking building no matter *what* is being smoked, and that their smoke is filling the common hallways and making you sick. You want to be careful not to write a letter so stern and threatening that you come across like some kind of police officer, because all that will do is make them feeling angry and self-rightous enough to do something like purposely force even more smoke into the halls. Even so, let them know that this note is the ONLY one you'll write: next you'll notify the building management, then the police. Then follow through: next time, call the landlord; after that, the cops.
posted by easily confused at 3:14 AM on October 27, 2013

Quick, easy, anonymous, and unofficial solution: Ozium.
posted by Houstonian at 4:35 AM on October 27, 2013

Should we just suggest they put a towel under their unit door? Complain (anonymously) to the property management?

Don't bother management. Take care of it yourself. Stick an anonymous note in their mailbox. I would write "Hi, I'm your neighbor and I frequently smell marijuana smoke in the hallway. I think it's coming from your apartment, but I could be wrong. If I'm wrong, please disregard this note. Don't bother reading further, just pitch this.

"If it is coming from your apartment, please know that I really truly don't care if you smoke marijuana; I just don't want to smell it in the hallway because it makes me feel sick. If it were cigarette smoke I'd say the same thing. So I have a favor to ask: could you put a towel under your door when you light up? That's it! I would really appreciate it."

If they don't do it after that (give them some time), then you should contact management.
posted by zardoz at 4:49 AM on October 27, 2013 [16 favorites]

Screw all this dancing around. Either let it go and forget about it or do something about it that works. If you cannot let it go then put up a sign that indicates that it needs to stop, and stop now. If they don't get the message call the cops. I vote for live and let live though. If it isn't in your apartment but just in the hall then just ignore it. You are not in the hall long enough to worry about it.
posted by caddis at 5:25 AM on October 27, 2013

I strongly disagree with giving them any suggestions to them to use “air fresheners” or Febreze, etc. – even something like Febreze that masks smells by deadening sense of smell will not change the fact that there is second-hand smoke in the air to irritate lungs. For that matter, I’d hate the masking scents as much as the smoke, both because they are usually unpleasant to smell as well as another potential cause of allergies/asthma.
posted by D.C. at 5:32 AM on October 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'd tell management. if its a smoke free building, then the people must've known that when they moved in and are beig d-bags; this absolves you of any obligation to settle it personally or personably. management is there precisely to enforce rules, so let 'em do their job.

and if you do try to work it out with them and it doesn't take, then they have an idea of who complained to management. an anonymous complaint to management, IMHO, is the best bet.
posted by jpe at 5:58 AM on October 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

Law enforcement is going to be a tough call here.

In a few places this kind of complaint will get a tough-looking sergeant to roll out and knock on the door, and give a stern warning not to smoke where others don't care for it.

In most places though you are going to get one of two extremes: laughed out the door when you try to file the complaint, or the complaint gladly seized upon as an excuse to bust through the door on a Friday night, show the tokers the inside of a jail cell 'till Monday morning arraignment, and a DA demanding a plea for very serious misdemeanor penalties, or a felony if they'd stock up enough for a long weekend with friends, in order to avoid jail time. Laughed out the door is of no use, and bullet-proof-vests-strapped-on wouldn't sit too right in Golden Rule terms.
posted by MattD at 7:36 AM on October 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you talk directly to them, any other complaints about them will be assumed to come from you, even if they're not.

If it's a non-smoking building then they've already demonstrated they don't care about their neighbors. An anonymous complaint to the management is your best bet.
posted by winna at 7:38 AM on October 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Note in the hallway telling the responsible person's to improve the weather striping around their door, crack a window, and put down a towel.

This isn't that big of a drama, nor is it difficult to figure out.
posted by jbenben at 7:43 AM on October 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

This happened in our smoke-free building. Our entire floor was talking about it. We got the offending apartment evicted.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:37 AM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

the first time I've smelled it

You say "it" is MJ , but do you mean the smell of a grow operation, or smoke?
(I'm guessing the latter, but it isn't clear in the question.)

You say this smell is in the hallway, but can you smell it inside your apartment?

Also, are you sure the offenders are actually tenants in your building? If smoking's going on in the hallways, I'd be blaming teenagers in the neighborhood. Are the building's doors locked?
posted by Rash at 9:06 AM on October 27, 2013

Yes, an anonymous note to the landlord will certainly take care of it, but it's a serious asshole move. You'd only be doing it because you know it's illegal and would get the offender kicked out or much worse. Would you be leaving notes to your landlord if your neighbors cooked stinky food?

Figure out who it is and tell them their pot stinks, that they need to take measures to reduce the smell coming from their place and that you're not going to get them busted - but you did hear other folks talking about contacting the police and you don't want anything bad to happen to your neighbors.
posted by theraflu at 9:19 AM on October 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

If it's a smoke free building (and I'm not clear that it is), then you're paying a premium for that, and it was your understanding when you moved in. You're well within your rights to write to the landlord. Smoke is different from stinky food in that (a) it's a health risk and (b) it's not controlled by the lease. You could go have a conversation with them, but you don't have to. It's not your job to enforce their lease - but it is the landlord/property managers'. Then, when/if it doesn't stop, you'll have a personal grudge on your hands.

When we had problems in a multiunit building, after we made a complaint, everyone in the building got a generic letter from the property manager. You can certainly call the landlord to ask what happens if a complaint is made before you officially make one. Landlords don't want to be liable in interpersonal conflicts, either, and usually make this between the building/lease and tenants.
posted by Miko at 1:21 PM on October 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Would you be leaving notes to your landlord if your neighbors cooked stinky food?

If cooking stinky food were somehow banned in the apartment building, and the promised lack of stinky food cooking made me choose to live there, yes. These people/person are being assholes by smoking in a smoke-free building. The OP would not be an asshole by complaining about this to someone other than the tenants themselves. It doesn't matter if it's cigarettes or marijuana in this case. In fact, I think that's probably the safest route to take in case the smoking tenant decides to be an asshole in response to being told what to do by another tenant. Some people are like that.

An anonymous complaint to the landlord or property manager is completely warranted. BUT if you don't want to go there yet, depending on how your building is set up and how many people live there, maybe a good first option would be to put up a simple sign inside the front entryway stating that this is a smoke-free building if there isn't one out there already.
posted by wondermouse at 2:00 PM on October 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Whoops, I didn't notice that the building definitely is smoke free. Yeah, landlord time.
posted by Miko at 2:19 PM on October 27, 2013

Don't leave a note and don't escalate to the landlord yet. Knock on their door, be friendly, and simply mention that their (unspecified) smoke smell is bothering your asthma--doesn't have to be true, but the polite fiction should get the message across.

They are probably not trying to intentionally be assholes. Their drug of choice--unlike alcohol or cigarettes--is one that they legally cannot imbibe outside their apartment without risking getting into significant legal trouble. That doesn't mean they can't be considerate, but a lot of pot smokers are just a little dippy and clueless when it comes to how fragrant it can be. Go in assuming stupidity, not malice. If they act like hostile jerks about it, fine, escalate. But they probably won't.

I know confronting neighbors face to face is scary, but it's the neighborly thing to do here.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:14 PM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

We've decided to go with a polite note, something like what zardoz wrote. Part of the problem is that we know it's someone on our floor, but it's pervasive enough that we can only narrow it down to one of 2 apartments.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:40 PM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd write a non-angry note telling them that their smoke is filling the halls, and asking them politely to deal with it, giving useful suggestions - rolled towel at the bottom of the door, fan to blow smoke out a window. If they continue to smoke up the common spaces, complain to the landlord.
posted by theora55 at 5:05 PM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would recommend a little outdoor-air positive-pressure system. Get a relatively small fan and rig it up in one of your windows to blow (a small amount of) air *into* your apartment. If you keep things generally closed up, this should keep your apartment slightly pressurized such that any smells from the hallway/etc are blown outward before coming into your unit.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 7:11 PM on October 28, 2013

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