Why you should care

Because you should stop getting the short end of the smelly stick. 

At least a few times a week the aroma wafts into my apartment, sometimes in such abundance that it could almost deliver a secondhand high. I’m not the type to alert the police or my landlord — this is San Francisco, after all — but the situation irritates me. To my mind, it violates the cardinal precept of smoking pot: Don’t bogart that joint.

Obviously, many would argue that since marijuana is illegal under federal law and in most states — and potentially hazardous — the only thing to do is to call the cops. But for those with a hazier sense of right and wrong, here is a proposal: Pothead neighbors should either share their stash or stop lighting up. I’m not talking a 50/50 split, just something to sweeten the deal, because if my apartment is going to smell like marijuana, I’d at least like to be contributing to it. A regulation could look something like this: A properly rolled joint for every 10 hours of stink. It’s like a smoking tax and, IMO, a tiny price to pay to ease the aches of everyone who reaps the not-so-great benefits of a ganja-scented abode.

Neighborhood disputes about smoking pot are more common than you might think. Clarissa W., an employee at medical marijuana dispensary Magnolia Wellness in Oakland, California, says the “drama” that comes with smoking around neighbors can be “a huge issue.” On par, perhaps, with barking dogs, overgrown shrubbery and loud music. The nice thing about cannabis, though, is that it comes with a kumbaya ethos that all but dictates a resolution. Clarissa suggests sharing weed should be like asking for any other necessity from your fellow apartment dwellers. “If I knock for eggs, I should be able to knock for cannabis,” she says.

To be sure, this kind of generosity could cause some problems. Recreational marijuana is technically illegal in all but Washington State, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado and D.C., even if it is largely socially acceptable in cities like San Francisco. And anyone smoking in an apartment could potentially be evicted under federal law, even in states with laws allowing the use of medical marijuana. Ancillary point: Sharing our way out of conflict necessarily excludes anyone who doesn’t want to smoke pot (there are still some of us left, believe it or not) yet doesn’t want a hazy abode, either.

Then there are the trust issues. Dave Crow, of tenant rights law practice Crow and Rose, says you can get in trouble with the law if someone you share with “turns around to the cops.” Clarissa worries that though you might be willing to share, your neighbors might be uncomfortable with sharing details about their smoking habits. Maybe they work for the government, or are worried you’re setting them up.

But then again, cops “have better things to do,” says Crow, than arresting lowly pot smokers. And in many places, the punishment is “pretty minor these days.” So let’s stop being so paranoid and embrace the mentality of the 1960s. In the meantime, I’ll keep lighting candles and spraying Febreze.

Is our proposal too high-minded for you? Let us know.

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