Dear PoP – My Elderly Neighbor Won’t Stop Smoking Pot and our Apartment Reeks

Photo by PoPville flickr user Bogotron

“Dear PoP,

My fiance and I rent a condo in a small condo building (9 units). My elderly downstairs neighbor smokes pot. A lot. In fact, our unit smells strongly like pot four or five times a day for at least half an hour.

We’ve lived here about a year and a half. This man’s wife died about six months ago. Before she died, we would see him occasionally smoking in the storage basement or in his car; however, I assume his wife did not approve of him smoking in the house, so we didn’t have any problems with the smell for the first year we were here. There was an occasional smell of cigarette smoke, but it was only every once in a while. Since his wife died, however, he’s moved it inside.

My fiance and I have always been friendly with him when we see him outside of the building. He doesn’t really seem to take women seriously (another post for another time!), but my fiance talked to him, told him that our bedroom smelled strongly of pot all the time, and asked him if he could try to smoke on the porch. Our neighbor was not receptive: “Why don’t you all just open a window?”

I have spoken to our landlord (the condo owner) about this. I have also spoken to the neighbor’s grandson, who moved in with his grandfather when his grandmother died. Basically, nobody feels like anything can be done. Our landlord even spoke to the condo association, and they also feel that nothing can be done.

For what it’s worth, this man is not a kind person. We often heard him yelling at and insulting his wife. (I never heard any physical abuse, though I always kept an ear out in case I need to call the police.) I’m sure he’s grieving, in his way. He doesn’t seem to have dementia, though he’s seemed a bit out-of-it on occasion lately (perhaps he’s just high?) I don’t know if his pot smoking has increased since his wife died, but I imagine it has. We’re just the kids upstairs to him, I’m sure (when you’re 85, 35 year-olds probably seem like kids), and we don’t have the kind of relationship where we can broach trying to help him. From anything I’ve heard from other neighbors, he’s highly defensive in general and also tends to insult people directly. The grandson is an adult in his mid-twenties , but talking to him about the issue or concerns about his grandfather’s health doesn’t really go anywhere.

I’m just wondering if the PoP readers can think of anything I haven’t tried. I don’t really care about the legalities, etc; I just don’t want to smell pot when I’m at home. For what it’s worth, except for him, this is a great unit at a great price in a great location (and I’m already too busy working full-time and going to school and planning a wedding) so we don’t want to move away from here until we’re ready to buy (another year or two).

Any ideas?”

I’m afraid I don’t think there are any simple/quick answers here. Besides talking to him and getting him to change his behavior I don’t think anything else will compel him to change. We’ve spoken about cigarette smoke in apartments before but this is certainly a much more complicated situation. Even though it may seem uncomfortable, I really think the only thing you can do is continue to try to talk to the neighbor even if he is completely ornery. You might even want to bake him a pie or get him some dinner or something to break the ice. I know it may feel insincere but maybe you can win him over with friendship?

If he continues to not be receptive to rational actions/conversations then I’m afraid the only other option is to move (congrats on your wedding by the by!). Can you guys think of any other diplomatic/sensitive ways to resolve this situation?

213 Comment

  • Call the cops on him. Period. End of story. If his son tries to get surly over it, well, then you have a record built (on top of the condo associ.) on him, too. Why are folks so nicey nicey when it comes miscreants? I got news for you–this stuff goes on in the burbs, too…whether it’s about shrubs or even weed smoking. You have to kick a neighbor’s ass (figuratively) or become a doormat.

    • typo “when it comes TO miscreants.”

      Look, I’ll call the cops for you, just on general principle. If he’s been “unpleasant” to you, I’ll throw that in, too.

      • You, the female, ask him to smoke in the storage basement or his car again. Ask him three times (repeatedly because he’s old and senility is showing).

        Don’t do this for you; do this for his deceased wife, for all the times he yelled at her. You will have to brace yourself. He is going to be a pissed off old man. But really you are the kind and tolerant one.

        Then start calling the cops on the f*cker because he was truly, kindly, repeatedly warned. That’s the best you can do.

        • Btw, if there was an old lady yelling at her husband, or if the neighbor was smoking a cigarette, the answers on this blog would *not* be sympathetic.

          Also I forgot to say, try really hard not to get pregnant in this apartment. Most likely the baby would be okay, but I have seen enough (1,000s) children to theorize on the possible effects of pot.

          And again, there are many here who wouldn’t want to pay for that attention to the child either. (And instead, they’ll be complaining about the teachers in six years.)

          • You sound like a fundamentally unserious person.

          • Hey, I’ve seen my own advice repeated on here by new writers in this very section, which I’m toasting today with a cup of coffee.

            And you really have no idea who I am.

          • The answers wouldn’t be sympathetic because they would be taking into account that cigarette smokers aren’t penalized incredibly harshly in this country.

            Cigarette laws are about what they should be: protecting people who choose not to smoke. Drug laws are about punishing people, regardless of whether their actions are harming others. If calling the cops would result in this guy getting kicked out or at least given a warning, it would be easier to say that’s the right course. But as far as I understand this could result in jail time for some (nasty, perhaps) older man who may be in poor health. Regardless of how rude the fellow is being, I’m not sure if I’d want that to be on my conscience.

          • Yes, sad.

            And your advice is to:

          • Part of my advice is confirming that this is a prickly situation and it makes sense that the OP is having trouble. It sounds like she does care about hurting this old man even if he’s not a paragon of virtue, and I’m not sure saying “call the cops!” is any more helpful than confirming that it’s a really hard situation. Honestly, when I wrote that, I didn’t have any bright ideas, but it seemed like a lot of people were treating this as a situation with little consequence… which it’s not. For any of the people involved.

            I think some of the ideas others have offered are good avenues to explore–explaining how difficult his habit is and asking him to explore other options like a vaporizer or warning him that you may have to call the cops if he continues (and perhaps repeating this warning to the building management).

            Let’s say there is no easy solution. What is the best response:
            (1) Silence (forgetting that this is not actually an option because a bunch of people are oversimplifying on BOTH sides–neither “just call the cops” or “stop complaining and join in” are helpful if you read the OP’s whole message. If you’re assuming the thought of calling the cops hadn’t occurred to her, you’re an idiot.)
            (2) Confirming that other people see the dilemma, that the OP seems to be approaching it in a very mature and thoughtful way
            I feel like if I were the OP, it would at least be nice to know that people are listening and that the lack of a solution isn’t from a lack of thought

        • Way to go, bloom. Good advice. Tho frankly I’d just call the cops on the old fart.

    • Don’t be that person is my advice. In the city we don’t call the cops on our neighbors unless there is a real emergency.

      • That is not a suggestion.

        I’m much more interested in reading what TO do then what NOT to do.

        She’s seeking advice.

      • And that’s why this city sucks in a lot of ways, KR. You realize your underlying concept is dangerously close to “no snitchin’,” right? Have relevant and actionable information on someone breaking the law or otherwise behaving badly in a way that makes life worse for somebody else, but keep it to yourself.

        My advice: call the cops or take it to the condo board again. In any case, your goal is to get this geezer tossed out. He’s had ample chance to change his behavior in a way that is respectful of you and others without involving some level of higher authority.

      • dc would have never fallen into disrepair and this crazy hard wave of gentrification would not have happened if people did not follow that way of thinking. you are ignorant to the destruction that “we don’t call the cops on our neighbors unless there is a real emergency.” has caused.

        • Oh jeeze. Yes, not calling the cops on your neighbor for smoking pot is the same as not giving the police relevant information for a murder or violent crime etc. Got to go because I am late for standing out on the corner and writing down tag numbers of people rolling through stop signs and not wearing their seat belts.

      • anon. gardener

        And if one or both of them lose their job because they smell like pot all the time? is that an emergency? it’s illegal and a health hazard. they tried the nice neighbor way and it didn’t work.

        • When did it become “a health hazard” to SMELL something? This goes for ridiculous outdoor cigarette bans too: exposure to secondhand smoke is only problematic when you inhale the actual SMOKE, or particulate matter. It should be overwhelmingly obvious that dissipated smells, while often offensive, are simply not health hazards.

  • GIve him a snuggle tube

  • Maybe you are just too soft for Columbia Heights???

  • It’s freakin’ amazing, bullets in America are legal as hell.

    • Yeah, so are cars. They kill thousands more people than pot or bullets every year.

      • Especially when people are drunk. Funny that alcohol isn’t banned…

      • horrible argument. bullets are made to kill people and they do so on purpose. deaths by cars are ACCIDENTS. you could go on forever with this lame logic and talk about hamburgers and cigarettes and you would bore us all to death…

        • I think that’s kind of the point. Why, exactly, are drugs illegal? Not because they can kill you, apparently (and I’m pretty sure for the dosage that people tend to want to take, alcohol is more lethal than most illegal substances).

  • this is no help but I’d just like to say that is the greatest photo for this topic. I’d like to believe it’s the same man in the photo- surly old timer puffing on the streets.

  • Make a blowie (blowee? blowy? just say it aloud to yourself). You exhale into it. It’s basically dryer sheets + paper towel roll + rubber bands. I’ve never made one so you should probably consult Cousin Google. That guy knows everything. Name it David Blowie. Who could resist?

    Can you suggest he bake it or make tea of it (can you do that or did I make it up?). Then it should only smell once a day. Sugar certainly helps with my orneriness.

    If all this fails or you don’t have the same sense of humor and ability to ignore burrohats like I do, just call the cops like ProfChris said. If he were using it for medicinal reasons, I’d make more allowances but this seems to be “I’ve lived long enough to do what I want.”

  • What a shitty situation. There are no good solutions here.

    On a related note, where can i get some pot? I bet PoP readers could be much more helpful with that.

  • 85 year old man lost his wife, you are not even married yet. Let him be. Suck it up and learn a thing or 2 about urban living, or even his past. I’d rather read about his life-stories than your petty pot gripes. Try some of his pot and it might make you more tolerant of a widowed octogenarian.

    If you choose to call the cops on an old man whose pot smoke offends you, I hope that he eats your soul and that it rains shit on your stupid wedding.

    • I think what EdLounge is trying to say is that he smokes a ton of pot too. And he wouldn’t want the cops at his front door.

      Moreover, proper urban living requires you to shut up and remain miserable, so the EdLounges of this city can continue to exercise their absolute liberty.

      …or move back to the suburbs!

      • No, no, not having to deal with busybodies calling the cops on you for “smells” is a good reason to move to the ‘burbs. I suppose the “smell” of my nasty Indian Spices and Ghee cooking is reason to call the cops on me?

        I have to say: the smell and the busybody are both reasons I can’t stand ‘communal’ living.

    • Isn’t part of “urban living” being considerate of your neighbors by not blasting them with your pot smoke? The fact that he’s 85 is not relevant; he could just as easily open a window and blow the smoke outside.

      • I agree with you Bloomingdale — unfortunately, too many people in this city don’t understand how to live considerately. It is almost as if they get pleasure out of making their neighbors more miserable!

        I’d suggest talking to him rationally and directly a few more times and tapping the condo association again before getting the police involved. Thankfully you’re renting and can move out after you get hitched!

  • Didn’t POP feature two articles in the last day about MPD not responding to more important issues?
    1) I suggest you go out and buy an air purifier (like they sell at Sharper Image) and keep it running – should fix the smell problem.
    2) Call DC social services. This is less of a crime situation and more of a mental health situation. He may be suffering from untreated dementia and could be vulnerable to elder abuse.
    3) Enjoy the next time you write a rent check, and be glad you don’t own the place.
    4) Take a bit of solace that he is 85 not 58 – actuarial data would say your problem is fleeting.
    5) Pour a nice glass of wine and relax once step 1-4 are done.

  • well it *is* illegal so you could call the cops. you could pester him to death. or you could buy him a vaporizer. when my neighbors’ dog wouldn’t stop barking i bought them a shock collar, epxlained to them that the Humane Society endorsed it, etc., and they used it to train him to stop. I shouldn’t have had to buy it, just as you shouldn’t have to buy your stoner neighbor a vaporizer. But vaporizers don’t smell. Or, as I did in college (I didn’t inhale), a toilet paper tube with a laundry detergent pouch in the middle to exhale into.

  • This is all the worst advice ever. Move. It’s worth it.

  • Call the cops if you want, but don’t write any followups to PoP when you get mugged, or your car gets broken into, or cops take half an hour to respond to a potentially violent developing situation on your block. It doesn’t sound like you’re leaning in that direction, but the reactionaries like ProfChris, Iwill and Bloom (where’d you go to medical school, by the way, Bloom?) really have no idea what real crime is. This is not a broken “windows situation,” either where we must stop a crime before it escalates. An 85 year old man isn’t going to start dealing and shooting up his block. He’s going to die soon, or you as a renter are going to move soon.

    Seriously…I wish I had your problems, where the most important thing to “fix” was an 85 year old who’s probably bored out of his mind, depressed, lonely, and trying to numb whatever time he has left.

    • The 85 year old isn’t dealing, but who does he buy it from? And who do they buy it from? He is helping keep a line of criminals in business, and somewhere along that line are the killers and gang members. (unless he grows his own).

      This is criminal activity until the law changes. Call the cops. The OP states that they were ready to call the cops if they felt abuse was occuring.

      Not only is this illegal, but it is affecting your well being and health. It sounds like you have already given him the opportunity to discontinue his indoor drug use.

      Seems to me like a slam dunk.

      Or move.

      • @photdork:

        ” He is helping keep a line of criminals in business, and somewhere along that line are the killers and gang members. (unless he grows his own).”

        This is ridiculous. HE is keeping criminals in business? Um, I’m pretty sure it’s the GOVERNMENT by keeping this plant illegal. Legalize it and a lot of this crime goes away (not to mention the millions freed up from not throwing people in jail, state appointed defense attorneys, prison guards, etc…). Now that I think about it, that’s probably why THOSE people keep it illegal…They all have an industry based on it being illegal. It’s too important to THEM to change things.

  • back in the old days, such petty quarrels were settled over the peace pipe…

  • Let me get this straight -an old man’s wife recently dies and he is alone in his apartment smoking pot and the majority of posters suggest calling the cops to have him arrested?

    OMG. How about this? Invite him for dinner and talk with him about how perhaps exhaling out the window would really mean a lot to you while you buy an air freshener?

    I sincerely hope I never have any of these posters as nieghbors of mine. We have loud parties. Our neighbors have late events outside our bedroom window. Noise in the am from kids going to school and dogs barking. We see this as city living and we love it. Of course at times we’re more understanding of “our” type of appropriate behavior but it takes a true neighbor to realize that life involves all colors of folks and getting along involves not calling the cops when you can’t work something out. All avenues have not been crossed.

    This undoubtedly old sad man could use some love, not cops. Perhaps he is not in a place to listen so well over the next few months…give him time.

    And as for those who talk about the evils of pot I say this. Likely half americans use it to relax like they do with alchohol. The issue isn’t if it is good for you -it isn’t. The issue is many folks are stressed and need something to help them unwind and feel better. Pot will likely be legal in 5-10 years when the government can make enough tax revenue from it. It is NOT soooo freaking evil. Life isn’t so black and white. This country was founded long ago on principles giving broad personal freedoms. Pot is one of those that does not tread very much on those around them. Certainly no more than rowdy drinkers. Basically I’m saying calm down and focus on issues beyond going to a job you don’t like and trying to save enough money to survive when you get older with little playtime in between.

    • You think pot isn’t dangerous? Take a look at the handywork of the Zetas and the Arellano Felix Cartel in Tijuana. Do a google image search of “Los Zetas Executions” and take a look at a bathtub full of severed heads while you ‘relax’ and ‘unwind’ and consider that you could be inderectly supporting these organizations.

      How do you think the pot gets here? The naivete of the pot smoking general public is staggering.

      Of course, if you grow your own…different story altogether…most don’t though.

      • oops ‘indirectly’ where’s the red pen?!

      • Not all of it comes from Mexico. It’s Virginia’s second biggest cash crop after hay. Maybe his pot is locally-sourced, and organic. Maybe it comes from Canada (Socialist Pot). Perhaps from Hawaii (USPS Pot). It’s entirely possible no heads were cut off to get this old man high, and besides, that’s not what MPD would be arresting him for if they bothered to come for this complaint in the first place.

        And before you get so damn righteous, where were your shoes made? Personally, I’m typing this on a Macbook. My iPhone is next to me. Please don’t come arrest me for what Steve Jobs and Foxconn are doing to people in China.

        • Millions of pounds a year come from Mexico.

          Statistically speaking, the pot most likely transited Mexico.

          As far as the Canadian pot, google Hell’s Angels and see what they have been up to lately. They control the vast majority of the Quebec hyrdoponic market.

          MPD wouldn’t be arresting him for that, but if he stops buying it his money will stop flowing there.

          I read the Foxconn article in Wired a few months ago…didn’t see mass executions or mutilation of corpses.

          • Regardless, that’s because drugs are illegal. Gangs deal in illicit drugs because they are illicit, not because they are drugs. Alcohol is a drug (more dangerous that pot in a lot of ways) and you don’t see the same things happening with that supply chain. And it’s not going to go away by wagging your finger at individuals–this is the kind of problem that gets solved by policy change, but everyone is too scared sh**less of anti-drug rhetoric like this to this about what a sensible policy looks like.

            I can see the argument that maybe the law should be changed, but until it is, it should be followed. I do wonder if you speed when driving though–that’s breaking the law, isn’t it? More importantly, maybe that’s a personal guideline, but it’s clearly not the way a lot of people operate and punishment is so far from being commensurate to the crime in our society (btw, want help with the budget guys? How about reducing incarceration costs?)

          • Honestly, L, Let me be clear: I don’t care about the legality just like the writer. Personally, it would probably be better for the Mexicans if it were legal.

            What I care about is the nuisance this man is causing… it’s a nuisance same as tobacco smoke. It’s unfortunate that it’s complex due to the laws. But that doesn’t mean the writer should pay the price either.

          • I guess I hope I’m not your neighbor, bloom. In the way you profess to treat other people, you seem a lot more like the old man than the OP. I am certainly not denying that it is an incredibly unfair situation, but it is what it is. The OP is clearly concerned with the consequences of her actions for this man, even if he deserves it, and I think that’s commendable. I hope to do the same if I find myself in such an unfair and uncomfortable situation.

      • he may be growing his own. we have no idea where it’s coming from. it’s like automatically assuming engagement rings are blood diamonds.

      • Any of that have to do with the fact that it’s illegal?

        • Nope. Not at all. But don’t go on some guilt trip about beheadings in Mexico. As far as I’m concerned if you jaywalked, or doubleparked in the last month, you’re just as much a criminal to me as this old dude. Trickle-down crime is kind of a stretch.

          It’s illegal because tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drug industries want it to be. Period. Who do you think bankrolled opposition to legalization in California?

        • Yes. Prohibition leads inexorably to criminal syndication. See U.S. history, 1920-33.

      • Exactly, precisely, totally — I don’t think many realize that those purchasing drugs from Mexico are the main driving impetus for hundreds of decapitations in Mexico. Whether or not you know it or like it. The cartels want your money — no matter what, and when you purchase any from Mexico you’re feeding right into it.

        Starve the beasts.

      • Look, Dork (how appropriate, ONDCP stooge?), if it weren’t illegal, the harm from the Zetas would vanish. Because it’s a weed, you know, the kind that grows all over the place with almost no effort?

        Without prohibition, the stuff would have a marginal cost in line with your organic farmer’s market basil, and there would be no incentive for the “zetas” (oooh, big and scary).

        95%+ of the “damage” caused by marijuana is directly attributable to it’s legal status (prohibition): death, violence, incarceration. There are some, small, costs in terms of mental health, and while those are bad, they can be addressed in vastly cheaper and more effective ways.

        • I never said anything about legalization…for or against.

          The fact remains that it is illegal, and as long as it is, the user’s dollars contribute to the violence. Users and dealers remain part of the problem.

          Unless it becomes legal OR drug users stop using, the beheadings and dismemberings will continue.

          • I’m sure drug users will stop using soon.

          • The evidence you offer for why weed is bad – why dealers and users are bad for their involvement with weed – is the #1 bit of circular logic employed to justify the continued prosecution of the War on Drug (Users): “Weed is bad: look at the head-chopping Zetas. You’re funding head-choppers.”

            What about people who smoke weed and don’t pay for it?

            If the ludicrous placement of Marijuana on the Schedule 1 list – a placement with no scientific or medical basis since at least 1972 (Nixon’s committee) – were eliminated, all of the harm you cite from weed use would go away. Period.

            I’m sorry this lady doesn’t like the stink – smoked weed is stinky – but she’s offended by stink and even in the current anti-tobacco mindless stigma campaign we’ve not made smelling bad a criminal offense.

          • So under your logic the marijuana trade only causes bad things to happen because it is illegal? By this same logic we should legalize cocaine? Heroin? PCP?

            And those who grow their own are not part of this problem. (they are also the extreme minority)

            The logic above is not circular. It is linear.

            1. Buy drugs.
            2. Money ends up in cartel’s pocket (eventually).
            3. Cartels fight over your business (beheadings, etc.).

            You prove my point with your second-to-last paragraph. If it were legal these problems might not be as bad. BUT UNTIL IT IS, users are one part of the problem.

          • Hey dork –

            Cocaine, PCP, and Heroine are very different than Weed.

            Compare Apples to Apples and your words might hold a little more weight.

            Even children know this fact.

          • also @photodork

            This is most certainly controversial, but yes, I would legalize all of that. This is supposed to be a free country and as long as they’re not hurting others, people should be able to do to themselves what they want (maybe the FDA could regulate things that are more seriously dangerous/addictive). I think the infantilization of the American public on this issue is actually really bizarre. I don’t want the government to be in the business of saving me from myself. i also resent the fact that we spend so much money on it, when a lot more lives could be saved investing that in health and real public safety.

          • Hey Frankie- That’s not what we are debating here. Try and keep up.

            L – Countless innocent people are hurt by illegal drugs, their traffickers and their users. If only we lived in a world where everyone could be trusted to do the right thing, we wouldn’t have to worry about all of this. But some people have to be “protected from themselves” so they do not hurt others. This is the world we live in. As a drug user, you contribute to that problem. I couldn’t care less if you want to legalize drugs, and then start using. That’s totally fine with me.

            If you are using now, you are part of the problem.

          • Hey Frankie- That’s not what we are debating here. Try and keep up.

            Hey Dork, we also aren’t debating PCP, Heroin, Meth or any of the other items on Schedule 1. We’re debating weed.

            You also didn’t answer my question regarding people who grow their own – trivially easy – and do not fund the cartels. They are users. They do not contribute to the problems you are intent on listing.

            It is not possible for the very lucrative market to exist (and support the cartels) unless you have prohibition. As someone else noted: the 18th Amendment is a demonstration proof of this.

          • In response to your question about those who don’t pay for it (and don’t grow their own): someone paid for it.

            Still part of the problem.

          • @photodork

            Aren’t we talking about legalizing drugs, then using? If I can review:

            Photodork says: “So under your logic the marijuana trade only causes bad things to happen because it is illegal? By this same logic we should legalize cocaine? Heroin? PCP?”

            Would you care to try to respond to my point without grossly misrepresenting the conversation?

    • I agree with this. Honestly, OP, you should write Cary Tennis from for advice. He’d straighten you out.

      Has anybody ever thought that he may be smoking medical marijuana? Just because his wife didn’t want him to smoke in the house doesn’t mean that he wasn’t allowed to. Heck, at this point in his life I’d consider the pot to be medicinal anyway. I’m sure it dulls his pain.

      I second the notion of trying to befriend him no matter how much it hurts. You may learn a lot. Bake him a pie and invite him to dinner first, then buy him an air purifier and ask him to use it. You could appeal to him by saying that you’re hoping to have children and you don’t want the smoke to affect your/their health. Kill him with kindness.

      One thing I will stress is not to call the cops. I think it’s impossible to predict how they and the legal system will react to this and it’s entirely possible with our draconian drug policies that he will spend the next few years until his painfully hastened death in prison. All for a minor nuisance.

      • Honestly, if not the cops, then who else do you call then?

        If it turns out to be medical marijuana then the cops will find that out. Or, if the writer wants she can ask him. Or he can willfully communicate it.

        The writer seems to have already demonstrated patience and tolerance. She may demonstrate further empathy too, and then that’s it.

        I believe in this old man, he has the capacity to be a decent neighbor.

        • Who do you call? The condo association and the landlord. The obligation is theres to enforce the rules of the building.

          • Thanks.

            Did you actually read what she wrote?

          • I dont care what she wrote. It is their obligation. That is the entity that they should be pressuring. They have an agreement with the landlord, the landlord has an agreement with the condo association, and the fellow downstairs either has an agreement with his landlord or with the condo association.

            its not that hard. if the condo association doesnt care, have a lawyer write a letter.

          • So she should get a lawyer? You should care what she wrote because she wrote that she already did what you suggested.

            Ok, there’s some advice.

          • you are extremely dense.

            my advice, which I see as the only route that will bring any sort of desired outcome, is to continue to pressure the landlord and condo association to do something. If you are still irritated by their lack of diligence, have a lawyer explain their obligations to them.

            This is their responsibility to solve. The End.

            Let me repeat this for emphasis, you are extremely dense.

          • You said yourself, “I don’t care what she wrote.”

            And it shows.

          • Which SHE DID. So you could have saved us a lot of angst and written, “She should call a lawyer to enforce the condo’s rules.”

            And by the way, calling me dense — you repeated that twice too.

            Say something new doll.

        • It takes you a long time to get to your point, which is repeating what has already been said.

          • Actually, no it doesnt. I got to the point in 2-3 lines, in direct response to your question, who do you call? As a refresher, this is what I said:

            “Who do you call? The condo association and the landlord. The obligation is theres to enforce the rules of the building.”

          • oops — responded at 1:46

    • Does “Half Americans” refer to “half of Americans” or people who are half-American and half-something else?

  • Oh man…it was things like this that drove me out of condo/apt living decades ago. I couldn’t stand it. Always smelling / hearing what your neighbor is doing, cooking, smoking, loud tv’s, pet noise. Having an association or rental company telling you what you could, or couldn’t do.

    I wouldn’t trade the “issues” of homeownership for all the diamonds in debeers to live through that crap again.

    • that’s funny b/c I find homeowners associations to be far worse than rental companies. they go after people for having the wrong shade of green mailbox and the pebbles in their garden being too big. my brother’s neighbors called the cops on him in Fairfax for doing landscaping work in his backyard that he had a permit for. my extensive experience with the suburbs is that people hide behind their curtains and call the cops before even trying to have a discussion with their neighbors. but when their nosiness could actually help out — like when my suburban house got robbed in broad daylight in 1994 — my neighbor who watched the whole thing did absolutely nothing.

      I’ve lived in 4 different places in DC and have only experienced very minor nuisances from neighbors in one of the buildings.

      somebody already mentioned it, but the odds are that this man will be dead in a year anyway.

  • There is only one way, every time you smell the kind herb, crank up the volume and repeatedly play “Old and in the way”

    Old and in the way
    That’s what I heard him say
    They used to heed the words he said
    But that was yesterday
    Coal will turn to gray
    And youth will fade away
    They’ll never care about you
    Cause you’re old and in the way


  • how about “sir, I don’t want to do it but either smoke in the places you used to smoke or I’m calling the police. I don’t want to get you in trouble but I can’t live with my place smelling like pot all of the time. it’s your choice to do it elsewhere or answer the police” with that said – you’ve given him a little control by telling him he has two options to pick from.

  • as a nonsmoker, and i understand it’s a matter of personal preference, but: no one has pointed out that the smell is, imho, rather enjoyable? as a casual tobacco user, i’ll admit indoor cigarette smoke is nauseating.

  • When all of you get in the same room like this, it makes me chuckle for a brief moment.

  • Actually it doesnt matter if its illegal or not. Even if he’s smoking medical marijuana, he’s interfering with the OP’s right to live without outside interference. Much like a car alarm going off at all hours of the night, a loud tv, or other disturbances, the condo association should be forced to deal with this situation.

    I agree that calling the police on an 85 year old is stupid. But this guy should be respectful of his neighbors and there is a condo association for a reason. They can levy fines and coerce him into obeying the rules.

    The fact that they wont is an issue for you and your landlord to take up with them.

  • Guess I won’t be seeing OP at the Widespread show tonight.

  • I can’t believe PoP suggested the OP move when the person who is actually causing the problem is doing something ILLEGAL and clearly doesn’t care whether it bothers his neighbors or not. It’s not the OP’s job to invite the elderly neighbor to dinner, bake him a pie, or to make him feel better. He can get help on his own.

    He’s breaking the law and no one’s apartment should have to smell like pot because everyone feels bad for him. RIDICULOUS.

    • PoP got very confused about the ethics this time.

      Many others here seem so blinded by their pro-pot or pot-tolerant sensibilities, that they fail to see the real issue of neighborly obligations.

      According to the facts above, the pot odors are a serious and regular nuisance inside the people’s apartment.

      Aren’t we all tolerant of our neighbors enjoyment of music, even loud music? But what if a neighbor is causing a nuisance by blasting music 5 nights a week? In that case, if the neighbor refused to heed requests to turn it down, few of us who are older than 17 would object to involving the police.

      I recognize that penalties are more severe for pot, but this is precisely why the neighbor should get his act to together, and do whatever it takes not to cause a regular and significant disruption.

      The guy is owed a warning at this point, and nothing more.

  • A couple of thoughts.
    – lighten up and mind your own business
    – I like the invite him over and ask him nicely to blow out the window or into the paper towel / dryer sheet contraption.
    – it is just some herb smoke. It smells good.
    – move. to a place where you don’t share walls.
    – don’t call the cops without at least having a nice, civil conversation with the guy.

    • Im going to come burn a pile of shit outside of your place and then when you complain I’m going to tell you to lighten up, besides, I think it smells good.

      Grow up.

  • …though I always kept an ear out in case I need to call the police…

    Creepy. Sounds like you are the one with the problem.

    • exactly what I was thinking. get a hobby

      • You would hear someone yelling constantly at a frail old woman and wouldn’t try to make sure she wasn’t getting physically hurt?

        • No… people fight and argue.

          Unless I saw something or heard some violent crashing or banging – not my business.

          Couples stay together for years for many reasons.

          I think it is fair to assume this couple was together a long time, by choice.

        • I think it’s great that you’re trying to look out. You seem like a great neighbor!

  • Since you are so nice and dont do anything like calling the cops.. why dont you build him a smokeless bong like the one in Harild and Kumar 2?

  • + a quadrillion

  • OP, get over yourself and move to Virginia.

  • Buy an air purifier. Give it to the guy. Ask him to put it in the room he smokes in.

    He has trouble doing the right thing—spend a few bucks to make it easier for him.

  • He’s old right? Deliver food high in saturated fats to him for a while, then regularly jump out of the bushes a few times at him as a prank,. Your problem should take care of itself.

  • I think it’s kind of funny how liberals push every type of loony, aberrant behavior onto society, and celebrate all sorts of anti-social weirdness while simultaneously condemning normal, straight-laced behavior as “square”, “neanderthal” and “outdated”. And then when the freak moves in next door to THEM, the very first impulse is to sic the cops on them and ruin that person’s (in this case, rapidly waning) life.

    This whole thread has been pure gold.

    • I think it’s funny how retarded conservatives are.

      • I think it’s funny how liberals love to play language police on everyone, and tell us we aren’t supposed to stigmatize the mentally retarded by turning the term into a pejorative. And then they exempt themselves from their own rules.

    • Especially comments for faux conservatives using names like Anonymous variations or like cartoon characters…

      Please explain – normal, straight-laced behavior?

      • A good example of normal, straight-laced behavior would be a churchgoing family.

        • that seems outrageous and highly superstitious to me.

        • I come from a very (politically) liberal family and we went to church every week when I was a child. And now, as a liberal, 20-something person living in DC, I still go to church every weekend. Just wanted to point out that conservatives aren’t the only ones who can display “normal, straight-laced behavior”.

        • Ohhhh… the Legend Believers. Right up there with the Snake Handlers and Faith Healers.

          Your that is real normal, straigh-laced behavior.

          What hater.

        • My family and my church taught me that the most important social value was forgiveness and charity.

          Some of these commenters are being unnecessarily rude to the OP, who sounds like a lovely person. However, in the grand scheme of things “liberals” seem to live out these values much more than most “conservatives” (and I don’t mean this to apply to everyone, there are many generous people who identify as conservative!).

          Isn’t the Christian thing to do here to turn the other cheek and try to help the old man, no matter how much he seems like he deserves punishment?

          • Ally, I hate to break it you but empirical data consistently and unequivocally shows that conservatives are significantly more “generous” than liberals (specifically, in the average amount of individual charitable donations of liberals vs conservatives).

            “Giving” by the government using funds taken through taxes is, by definition, NOT charity.

            Not that this is terribly relevant to the PoP topic, but it’s better to be informed, so i’m informing you.

          • You are completely talking out of your ass, Krustie Klown.

          • Kustie –

            Why is it you republicans always think of money first? Greed? Charity does not always mean donations.

            –noun, plural -ties.
            1. generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless: to devote one’s life to charity.

          • I’m sure that was a powerful episode of 20/20 you linked to but I don’t see how that proves:

            “empirical data consistently and unequivocally shows that conservatives are significantly more “generous” than liberals”

            It looks like based their findings on the “facts” that red states seem to give more than blue states, an author says so, and an experiment with a salvation army bucket in sioux falls and san fran which last I checked isn’t empirical data that shows conservatives are more generous than liberals.

            A What Would You Do? episode or To Catch a Predator story might lend your argument more credibility.

            This is my favorite comment page in forever. Animosity over something other than violent crime.

          • uhh… Kustie, this is based on a salvation army tin in 2 cities? sounds like a scientifically sound experiment to me.

          • Kustie- I have heard the same studies but to equate that statistic with all generosity seems a little limited to me. Perhaps conservatives give more to charity because they don’t think government works. I feel differently–I’ve volunteered at a lot of charities and the truth is that we can’t be as consistent as the government can. Donations and popular causes go up and down. They’re also in a lot of ways more responsible to the people who give them money than to the people they’re serving.

            I guess I try to look at what feels like it’s in the spirit of generosity and making sure that everyone has a warm place to call home, a chance at a good education, food, access to health care, all certainly seem like it. And from everything I’ve seen government is the best way to do that.





            Ally, i’m sure you feel good about yourself and all. And, observing places like DC public schools it is easy to come away with the conclusion that government is the best provider of those things you mention.

            But the fact remains that you are now trying to say you’re on board with the EXACT OPPOSITE of your original assertion, which was that liberals are more generous as people than conservatives. Now that i’ve provided ample, empirical evidence to the contrary, you seem to think you can pass off your contradications and I won’t notice that you have moved the goalposts.

            Lots of things may “seem” like such and such to you. However, you will have a much better understanding of the world around you if you ditch all that, and focus on how things ACTUALLY ARE.

      • I always thought you were the brother of jesse james, had no idea you were a wildly successful artist and storyteller.

    • This sounds especially ridiculous, coming from you. You wouldn’t know anything about loony, aberrant behavior or anti-social weirdness, now would you?

  • Is Poon the only one who wonders what percentage of these Dear PoP emails are real?

    I don’t have much opinion about this particular one, but I would kindly ask — on behalf of all Poon-minded people — please don’t ever call the cops on someone for marijuana. It ought to be legal in the first place and if you’re of that opinion, calling the cops on someone for it is hypocritical. Please find some other way to deal with this, perhaps as you would if it were cigarette smoke.

  • You might be able to seal out the smoke with a tube of clear caulk around the baseboards. Also, get those adhesive strips around the bottom of your door, and weather stripping around your interior doors. Try that. It will take 15 minutes, and it actually might work.

    OTOH, if your wedding planning is proceeding like mine did, you may need that particular potpouri wafting through while you negotiate with your beloved, your relatives, and your future MIL.

  • Buy the dude a vaporizer. Or get him a good medicated recipes cookbook. Smoke with him.

  • Call the cops! Hope they put him in prison, so he withers away his last lonely years, even lonelier. No pot, just lots of ass-ramming. So, go ahead. Give your a karma a nice shot of Jenkem.

  • you should make an eerie recording of your neighbor’s late wife nagging him about smoking in the house and play the recording whenever you smell smoke.

    It’s interesting that you view your neighbor as a chauvanist but he gave in to his late wife’s wishes for him to smoke outside. She probably nagged the hell out of him about smoking in the house until he gave in and took his habit outside. Why don’t you and your wife do the same?

    • Expect a summons in the mail, I am suing you for damages to my computer monitor.

      I just spit tea all over it.

    • +1
      not that it’s the best or most advisable option, but this the only advice here that i would actually do.

      just because i think it would be funny.

  • 1. bad or your health.
    2. it is currently illegal.
    3. perpetuates a drug culture that perpetuates the vastly destructive drug trade.
    4. It smells bad
    5. it makes you complacent

    • me

      Plus, too many jobs have drug tests. I would sure be pissed off if I failed a drug test at my job because I was inundated with second-hand smoke day in and day out.

      IMHO, too many people pass over the fact that it’s illegal. It doesn’t matter if you think it should be legal or not- because no matter what you think, it’s illegal. Yeah, whatever, call me old and tell me to move to the suburbs, but it’s fact.

  • Ps… your neighbor is an asshole; if he told your wife to open a window at the smell of his smoke then he will probably laugh at you if ” you come in peace” or offer an air purifier. grumpy old man

  • Great, now all I do is want to smoke. Thanks PoP.

  • i think drunk driving should be legal. therefore i drunk drive and none of you bastards better call the cops on me.

  • Two options come to mind. Each mutually exclusive. 1. Collect a donation from your (his) neighbors and buy him a vaporizer (not cheap): It doesn’t burn the pot, but just heats it so that it releases the THC crystals into a fine vapor, which is inhaled. It’s about 1,000 times (my unsubstantiated statistic) less smelly, doesn’t linger, and produces no carcinogens for the smoker. 2. Get the condo board to issue a demand–in writing–for him to stop. Let him know the board will give him three strikes, then turn it over to every cop and commission in the city.

    • You can get a vaporizer for much cheaper. I don’t smoke pot but my husband does occasionally in the basement. My only concern is the smoke and the smell, especially since we have kids and I don’t want them smelling it or dealing with second hand smoke. He got a vaporizer and that basically solved my problem with it. There is no more smoke or odor in the house and the negative health effects for my husband are greatly reduced. win-win.

    • Buying a vaporizer is a good idea… for the guy who is smoking the weed. Each of us carries a basic responsibility to prevent significant and regular disruptions to our neighbors’ lives. And when I engage in illegal activity, I consider myself luck if my neighbors simply tolerate it. Should I really expect them to spend THEIR money to help me violate the law in a way that doesn’t inconvenience them. Come on.

  • This guy could very be my hero. Let him smoke. Hes seen corridors of hell and glimpses of heaven in his life that you could only imagine whippersnapper.

  • i don’t understand the folks here who offer advice like ‘chill out’ or ‘suck it up.’ do you really have that little empathy? you can’t imagine what it would be like to have your house smell like smoke every single freaking day? if i were this guy’s neighbor i would be upset too.

    • +1. For me the fact that it’s pot is not the issue…but I can sympathize with the OP because I have similar neighbors. It is really irritating when my suits smell like someone else’s weed because their smoke is coming into my closets.

      If it were cigarette smoke it wouldn’t be any better. But agreed with some other posters that it is the condo association’s job to enforce its own rules. Have a lawyer send them a letter and see if that improves their “feeling” that nothing can be done.

  • Just go up to Capitol Hemp and buy the guy a vaporizer. It will endear you to him and solve the smell problem simultaneously, while supporting local business.

    To all those advocating getting the guy kicked out, grow a heart.

  • I don’t think posters lack empathy that something should be done. It is the idea of calling the police on the man.

    I wish America would wake up and smell the hypocracy. Allow me on my soapbox:

    1) Cops shouldn’t be involved to settle most neighbor disputes. Period. Living with others can simply be hard sometimes.
    2) Everyone complains about too many lawsuits and lawyers yet at the drop of a hat sue or threaten to sue.
    3) Many who argue against pot despite being essentially the same as alchohol during prohibition. I’ll accept the “illegal” argument only from those who don’t break other laws that cause others so little harm -ie cheating on taxes, speeding, drinking wine in public, etc.
    4) Nobody likes their lives interfered with forcefully yet we have a huge army that is ALWAYS in everyone else’s business. Imagine if in 15 years China institutes a “no-fly” zone over the US because they didn’t like, for example, treatment of Native American Indians. There is always another side and using force is a last resort usually to protect yourself defensively. We should stop telling everyone else what to do as years later more often than not we’ll be wrong. And do you really think our government is best suited to make such philisophical decisions about far-off lands? Please.
    5) Religious zealots prove to me intolerance as surely nobody is sure of the meaning of life or which, if any god, exists yet many are willing to yell and kill to protect their opinions. Is this really religion or democracy?

    So please, focus on our similarities, accept and respect our differences, tell other people what to do as a last resort and don’t subscribe to things that divide.

    • you make absolutely no valid or good points. Your rant reveals only that you are living in a different reality than most everyone else.

    • don’t think posters lack empathy that something should be done. It is the idea of calling the police on the man.

      No, it’s that they have empathy – for the old man.

      • So the fact that he’s old trumps sexist, nasty, and rude, and an insulting bully to his now late wife. Try feeling empathy for the (presumably) courteous couple who don’t want to smell that shit all day.

        • The relative empathy people feel has nothing to do with whether or not this guy is what this gal describes (sexist, nasty, rude, etc.).

          I feel empathy for both – much like the OP: I don’t like some smells, and I hate the legal group home in the rental next door, where they wake us up at all hours with their outside voices and in general raised-in-a-barn manners. It so happens that most of these differences in personal habits and preferences (manners) fall along class lines to boot.

          I do not get to call the cops just because they sit on their stoop, smoke cigarettes and it blows in my window (just like lighting up in my living room). We have not yet agreed as a society that these smells are illegal (the anti-tobacco zealots are working on it though). Frankly, I find the smoke less offensive that a lot of other stuff you get whiffs of in the city.

          Noise ordinances do exist, and I’d call the cops if their ‘outside voices’ consistently rose to the level of the ordinance at 5AM.

          We have real limits on what you can legislate as offensive, and that’s a very good thing.

  • Definitely the Post of the Day.

  • Ok if the elderly gentleman needs it for medicinal purposes, then fine, so be it. But he should do it in a way that does not inconvenience the neighbors. Maybe brownies? Open a window? There are ways I’m sure.
    I just find it sad that so many people here are telling the OP to go out of their way to accommodate this man and his habits, when in reality it should be the opposite. If his wife didn’t tolerate it, they why should his neighbors? If you want to indulge, sure you have the right (well not really with weed), but then make sure it doesn’t interfere with others. Would the elderly neighbor, or even everyone here, tolerate their neighbors blasting music at 3am on a Tuesday? I really doubt it, and for some, smoke can be just as invasive as loud music.

  • OP lives in Shaw not CoHi.

    Maybe take a look at the DC Office on Aging (DCOA)…Im sure the police also can refer the situation to them.
    The condo association should stop wringing its hands and do something. Push them! Ive seen condo boards go ballistic over Christmas decorations on doors, Id imagine there is something they can do about illegal activity in the building. Have they documented anything? You’ve tried to be neighborly and respectful of his right to be a nasty sad old man…but you don’t have to deal with his shite interfering with your living space. (suspects all the people telling you to “chill out” are probably problem cases in their own spaces). I could see you being this nice if he was a polite fellow…but rude and nasty? Oh hell no. I know plenty of really sweet respectful 80 year old citizens who have gone through a lot of tough times and still remain considerate and civil members of society. People that are improperly socialized to live in society need different levels of assistance and correction (violent, illegal, rude, inconsiderate, uncivil,etc.). So if condo board is incapable, time to call the po-po. I hate it when rude inconsiderate people get away with their crap.

    • Condo boards rarely care unless it is affecting one of them directly. I agree about the holiday decorations, though. My condo board chair nearly had an aneurysm when someone called him a Nazi for threatening a lawsuit over Xmas stuff.

  • Start smoking cigars in your condo. That will cover the smell and probably annoy him as well.

    • You can also start shoving poo down the radiator pipes. I had a friend whose crazy upstairs neighbor (the guy claimed my friend was using a radio to control his brain) did that. They guy also called the fire dept., saying my friend’s apt. was on fire, leading to my friend’s door being smashed in at 5am by an axe… needless to say, crazy man was arrested.

  • You pay your rent, you have the right to your privacy. He knows he’s bothering you and he doesn’t care.

    So call the cops, let him deal with them.

    Be “THAT” neighbor.

    For folks that don’t have issues in the neighborhoods, you will never understand. I’ve got noisy neighbors. I pay a mortgage; however, every Saturday night I am forced to listen to music on both sides of my home.

    I tried to talk and be nice, now? F*k them. Let them talk to DCPD.

    Guess what? The noise stopped…

  • Most people here seem to agree that

    (1) The use of pot should be tolerated, if not legalized;
    (2) The nuisance of pot smoke should therefore be treated like the nuisance of cigarette smoke; and
    (3) The first way to address any nuisance is through civil means.

    Some believe that

    (4) If civil means fail, then it is appropriate to seek police intervention. Some would argue that agreeing with (1), (2) and (3) precludes agreement with (4). Others would say these beliefs are not inconsistent.

    The couple has been completely tolerant of pot use — urging the neighbor to continue smoking, only outdoors. Their complaint is not against pot use at all, but against the infusion of their apartment with its odor.

    The couple has treated the pot odors in the manner one would treat any nuisance, and they have done this in a civil manner — addressing the problem first with the neighbor, then with their condo association. Some think they could go further, but suggestions that they smoke pot with the neighbor or bake him a pie are plain silly.

    The looming issue is (4) — whether illegality of the conduct should be relevant. Here’s the way I would analyze it:


    (a) The neighbor’s behavior is significantly and regularly disruptive to the couple; and
    (b) The couple has politely requested him to stop and tried other civil approaches without success;

    Then it becomes relevant that the annoying behavior is illegal. After all, the couple could have reported the neighbor to the police the first time they noticed the pot smoke. We don’t know why they tolerated it, but even if they disagree with its criminal status, they were also being neighborly. For me, if the neighbor is going to do something that’s illegal, he should count himself fortunate that the couple next door is tolerant of it. I also think the neighbor incurs, in reciprocation of the couple’s tolerance, an obligation not to allow his pot to disrupt their lives. The neighbor has not ensured this, and he’s even been rude in response to their requests!

    If the neighbor was regularly disturbing the couple by smoking cigarettes, then they would have no recourse if neighborly requests failed. If his regular disruption was loud music late at night, then they could resort to a noise ordinance, after neighborly requests failed. In this case, he’s regularly disrupting their lives by breaking a criminal law. Neighborly approaches have failed.

    It would be a big mistake for the couple simply to suffer this or move, as PoP and others have suggested.

    Rather, the couple should

    (a) Remind the neighbor that they are tolerant of his pot smoking but not of its regular intrusion into their apartment; and they have attempted direct, civil remedies to the problem without success.
    (b) Tell him that tolerance of pot and preference for civil solutions to neighborly issues makes them disinclined to report his pot use to the police, but that they will do this if he doesn’t take immediate steps to prevent regular intrusion of the odors into their apartment.

    • nicely done.

      board at work, huh?
      ; )

    • You must be an lawyer, no that there’s anything wrong with that… 🙂

    • Shouldn’t have taken an ethical exegesis to make clear that it’s the responsibility of the guy smoking the pot to prevent it from causing a major annoyance to neighbors.

      The age of the guy is irrelevant. Whether pot should be legalized is irrelevant.

      One has to assume that the guy will do the right thing when the neighbors give him the police warning. But it never should have come to this. Whatever you think about legalization of pot, the guy’s committing a crime and should be thankful his neighbors are ok with it. Instead, he scorns his basic obligations to his neighbors, and acts like a jerk in response to polite requests. If they give him a warning, that will be more than he deserves at this point.

    • Not really so nicely done – from a legal perspective you’re quite right – the fact that the annoyance is illegal makes all the difference.

      From an ethical perspective, what you’re really saying is, gee, I have this very big hammer available to me for dealing with a smell (the original complaint) that I don’t have available to me for other smells.

      The difference with the noise ordinance is this: the noise ordinance is specific to the offense: noise.

      The underlying complaint is “I don’t like the smell intruding upon my nostrils” – much like I personally don’t like the smell in the stairwell at the CH/DCUSA Giant.

      If the neighbors said, “we don’t like pot smoking/smokers in our building” so we called the police (whether or not they smell it) just because we’re aware of it and becuase it is illegal, then ethically, they’d be all set to use that bigger stick. But they went out of their way to point out that they don’t object to pot smoking per-se – they just want him to do it outside so the smell doesn’t come in their apartment.

      • +1

        You said this much better than I did!

      • Can we be clear about what Ethicist recommended? A WARNING to report criminal activity to the police is not a “big hammer.” Whatever you think about drug laws, reporting criminal activity is ordinarily a simple civic duty, and a warning is a neighborly second chance. The couple here has a tolerant attitude toward smoking pot, but the guy is causing them a regular and serious annoyance. It is not trivial as you describe it, and it is INSIDE THEIR APARTMENT, not in the stairwell at the Giant.

        The basic ethical obligation of the couple is to try polite approaches first, other civil solutions (like the condo association) next, before resorting to available legal coercion. In this case, there’s an easy legal remedy: the guy is imposing a regular and serious annoyance on the couple only by violating criminal law; reporting his activity to the police would stop the annoyance immediately. Giving the guy a warning would likely also stop the annoyance immediately, with no legal repercussions to him.

        It’s true that most antisocial behaviors do not have such easy legal solution. But how is the absence of enforcement in other cases relevant to the ethical choice of the couple in this case? It’s also irrelevant that the guy could cause many similar annoyances without violating criminal law. All you’re saying is that in other cases, criminal law will not enforce an appropriate ethical outcome. The availability or nonavailability of legal enforcement says nothing about the ethics of either of the parties.

        It’s also suggested that because the couple’s ethical objection is to having the guy’s pot smoke in their apartment – not to his smoking it – they are therefore not acting ethically by threatening to report the crime of his USING pot. If I know a neighbor has an illegal gun, but only object to his shooting next door, am I unethical to threaten reporting him only if he continues firing the gun?

        You’re demanding that the ethical response (warning the guy about a police report) align with the problem (the guy’s pervasive pot smoke) in every way, including the purpose of the criminal statute. Otherwise, you seem suggest, the couple is being less than ethical.

        It not hypocritical or unethical for the couple to say, “We do not want to tolerate your smoking pot if it’s regularly filling our house with odors,” and “We don’t have to, because this also happens to be illegal.”

        • A WARNING to report criminal activity to the police is not a “big hammer.””

          Nonsense – it’s clear threat. Don’t dress it up in fancy bullet structure and pretend it’s an ethical argument. It amounts to: I will use all legal means at my disposal to effect the result I want. I don’t think the threat of legal action – of a drug conviction for a demented 85 year old – in order to address smells is particularly “ethical”. The remedy is grossly disproportionate to the harm.

          Listen, I think this guy is an idiot if someone complained about noticing his illegal activity and he didn’t immediately stop. Most likely he thinks being 85 is a free pass – if he’s still thinking rationally. I’m not surprised to hear an 85 year old substance abuser is a jerk and somewhat sexist.

    • Damn – cogent arguments make me hot!

    • WRITE HIM A LETTER. The Ethicist — and others have made some excellent points about handling the situation. My thought, though, is that the neighbor is likely to respond defensively and possibly nastily to a conversation. Reading the concerns — and the possible legal consequences — in a formal letter, which he can re-read and take time to process might be a better way of helping him to realize the consequences of his behavior to his neighbors, and the potential consequences to himself if he does not change his behavior.

  • I’m sick and tired of the liberal media portraying…

  • Just put on some Allman Brothers and dim the lights.

  • I would buy him a vaporizer you get less pot smoke with those.

  • what if you get drug tested at work and you have a neighbor that smokes that much?

    what if you have a home business that involves mailing things that then smell like pot?

  • Wow – this ended up being a fascinating discussion. Thanks for all of your thoughts. I need to re-read all of posts by people who tried to be helpful and think some more about a plan of action.

    FWIW, I don’t live in Columbia Heights, as someone suggested. We live in Shaw, and I ain’t moving to the suburbs. 🙂

    The vaporizer is in interesting idea. I had thought of something like that, but I was just thinking air purifiers, and after some research, it seemed like purifiers won’t work. I hate the idea of spending that much money on a vaporizer, though.

    You’re all right that I don’t want to call the police. I’m not interested in getting an elderly guy arrested.

    I do like the idea of talking to him a few more times and then trying what one poster suggested, but just not ever following through on the calling the police part: “Sir, I don’t want to do it but either smoke in the places you used to smoke or I’m calling the police. I don’t want to get you in trouble but I can’t live with my place smelling like pot all of the time.”

    Also, beyond the idea that I wouldn’t want to see the guy in jail, one of the other things about calling the police that bothers me is the fact that there are several young shady characters who run in and out of his apartment a few times a week. I assume they are his suppliers, and I’m not comfortable with having them in our building. I’m not scared of the neighbor, but I think these dudes have the potential to be legitimately scary. I’d have to be super anonymous if I called the police because of these shady guys. However, if I talk to the neighbor several more times, they will suspect that I’m the one that called. A Catch-22.

    I do wonder, however, if calling the police might end not in jailtime, but with some sort of mandatory referral to a social service agency that could actually end up helping him with depression and grief. Anyone know?

    Anyway, thanks very much for all of your thoughts. The good news is that it’s warm enough now to actually open our windows, as our neighbor suggested.

  • Also, as I mentioned in the original post, I’m not anti-pot, and I don’t care about whether or not it’s legal. Really, if it’s pot or cigarette smoke or animal urine, or incense, or cooking onions, or any other smell that’s really strong/stinky, if it wafts through your house really strongly every single day many times for 30-60 minutes each time, it will bother you.

    I hadn’t thought about the drug testing, though now I am. This wouldn’t affect my job, but it would affect my fiance. I also hadn’t thought about drug cartels and their role in supplying the street thugs and our neighbor. More food for thought. I do love DC….

    • Original poster, i was just joking. The cartel isn’t after you. I just think the idea that this 85 year old dude’s weed is coming up from central america via some massive international gangster operation is kind of funny. Maybe if it were heroin or cocaine or something. But if the guy’s just smoking some weed, i GUARANTEE this is not how he’s getting it. There’s probably a grow house out in Frederick or something, and he’s getting it from the grandson. That’s why the grandson seems unconcerned about your complaints.

      • He’s not getting it from his grandson. He’s getting it from a couple of street thugs who hang out on our street. Obvi, the drug cartel isn’t involved here, but these particular dudes could be if I call the police.

  • Get some spray foam from home depot and seal up around the radiator pipes and other locations that is what is allowing his air into your space so easily. Check below the baseboards too if your place is plaster walls.

    Or, point a fan mounted in the window into your apartment creating positive pressure out of your unit into his.

    Turn off your bathroom and kitchen fans would tend to suck air into your unit.

  • //thread

    • it may not be illegal as DC is a medically accepted state.This guy may have cancer or very least some type of gastointestinal disorder that smoking alleviates.You people should not demonize something you cannot relate to or have no direct knowledge of.As a stomach cancer patient and as well chronic pain patient,CANNABIS HAS SAVED MY longer am i forced to take addicting narcotics to relieve my pain.No longer am i forced to vomit when i eat or writhe in pain confined to a bed.Open your eyes this is 2011 , theres so much worse u could experience than a little pot smoke.

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