“I come home every day and it smells like there is a skunk hanging out in the place”



Photo by PoPville flickr user JosephLeonardo

“Dear PoPville,

I normally would just talk my issues out with my neighbors, but I am not sure of the polite way to pose questions about, now legal, marijuana without making assumptions about any neighbors.

For the last few weeks I have had to deal with a constant smell of pot in my back yard, which I was able to handle despite it smelling awful (smelled like a skunk was spraying every night. I coped with that, but now that the weather has cooled, the smoking has gone indoors and is coming through the walls so my house smells like weed all the time.

I don’t know which neighbor is responsible and I don’t want to make any assumptions, so that is the main problem. Is there any polite way to ask who is responsible, and also point out that i’d love to buy them a vaporizer or anything that might reduce the smell.

I don’t think people realize how it permeates your whole house (I come home every day and it smells like there is a skunk hanging out in the place). I just need to find a polite way to ask which neighbor it is and buy them a vaporizer for Christmas.”

Ed. Note: Last year we spoke about Unintended Consequence for Pot Decriminalization.

40 Comment

  • Are you in a rowhouse — i.e., are you in a situation where there are only two houses that the smoke could be coming from?
    Do you know the neighbors on either side at all? (Like, enough to know each other by appearance, even if you don’t know their names?)

  • A CONSTANT smell indicates they are likely growing. My home, and none of the homes of my friends who use cannabis, does not have a constant, lingering smell. I have never been in someone’s home who has not smoked in a while (a couple hours, minimum) and does not have open containers of cannabis flowers that smelled. And I have a very sensitive nose.

    • Unless they are constantly smoking, that is. I have a couple of neighbors down the block who are (seemingly) constant enjoyers of the p.o.t. Depending on the deal of the day, it either smells terrible and strong or is tolerable. I can’t ever smell it inside my house, though.
      Relatedly, I live in a rowhouse and haven’t ever smelled anything through the walls — either smoke or cooking. Since all of the old places around seem to have pretty solid party walls, I’m always surprised when I hear that people have problems with odors from the neighbors. Good luck to the OP in figuring this out! Let us know how you end up resolving it!

      • I live in the lower unit of a converted rowhouse (basement and first floor, upstairs neighbors have second and third floor). we can ALWAYS tell when they are smoking when we walk into the front shared vestibule area, but I have never noticed anything inside our apartment (or at least nothing strong or lasting enough that I can recall it). not sure whether it affects the neighbors on either side.

  • You should recommend to your neighbors that they buy higher quality weed.

  • I think this is still something that you’ll need to talk to the neighbors about. It seems as though you’re worried that they’ll be offended that you’re “making assumptions” about them… but now that pot is legalized, would it really be all that offensive to be thought of as a possible pot-smoker?
    I don’t doubt that it’ll be an awkward conversation, but it’s one you need to have if you want to get the problem resolved.
    Also, what kind of walls do you have — is this a typical D.C. rowhouse with plaster-and-lathe over brick? The fact that the smoke smell is coming through might mean you no longer have proper firewall protection either.

  • As someone said, if it is a constant smell, it’s probably because they are actively growing. While I don’t know what you can do to nail down who’s doing it, when you DO find out, you could politely tell them to consider buying a carbon filter for their grow-set up. It absorbs a lot of the odor produced by the plants, so it shouldn’t leak to the outside or penetrate to your house.

  • I had a similar situation a few years back, pre legalization. My newborn son has a chronic lung disease and heart issue and at the time was on oxygen and heart monitor. The house directly behind us would smoke pot in the back yard and the neighbors next to us would smoke cigarettes outside. We simply went over and were as polite as possible. We didn’t make any demands, assumption, or asks. It was their house and they could do as they wanted, and they were really good neighbors. We just let them know that we could smell their smoke in our house and had a newborn who was especially sensitive to it. They were all super nice and responsive. They stopped smoking in areas that were upwind of our house.

    I think if you just knocked on your neighbors doors (both sides and backyard) and were super polite/ no demands they’d probably be cool.

  • Vaporizers for all! Or why not take a Thanksgiving treat of some kind around as a gift to all your neighbors and take a sniff when they open the door.

    • Actually, I’m confused about vaporizers.

      • What confuses you? It heats the pot up to the point just before combustion. This allows the THC/CBD in the plant material to be released without combustion, ie, no smoke. There is an amount of vapor that you exhale, but it won’t smell up a house and the stink normally is gone within minutes. I have one for when my mother in law comes to town. Im able to sit in my bedroom and puff tough with her using the restroom in the hallway by my bedroom and she has no idea.

  • I have had this issue with a neighbor who smokes (cigarettes) in his apartment in a rowhouse next to my house. I had a team come in and reseal/mortar my brick wall shared with that house. It’s helped remove about 90% of the smell, but occasionally I can still smell the neighbor when he is smoking. It’s not fun and I hate the smell of weed even more than cigarettes, so I feel you.

    Frankly, I’ve noticed the entire neighborhood constantly smells like weed. Unsure if that is a result of decriminalizing it (people need to realize it is not legal to smoke in public), but it’s pretty terrible. I think the smell is like cilantro. You either like it or hate it. That said, I doubt even if you love it you want your house to smell like it when you’re not a smoker.

    • I think this may be my fav Popville comment of all time — “I think the smell is like cilantro. You either like it or hate it.”

    • “people need to realize it is not legal to smoke in public”
      No one will ever “realize” they shouldn’t do that thing they want to do without an outside negative force. And since the illegality of smoking in public is a joke, and treated by such by stoners and cops alike, it’s not going to happen.

  • I used to be in favor of legalizing pot… until now. I live in a building in DC and this is a constant problem. The smell is awful and overpowering. I think it is far worse than cigarette smoke. It, along with some other reasons, is a major contributing factor of why I’m moving out of the District. I feel like the smell is everywhere now, I even smell it from time to time on the street. Frankly, I don’t care what you do in your own home, until you start affecting me. I’ve talked to the building management as well as other residents and no one seems to know how to tackle this issue, so I’ll be voting with my feet and moving out.

  • Hang a sign:
    “Hi Neighbor! I am extremely sensitive to smoke and would love to buy you a vaporizer for the holidays. I get huge headaches whenever smoke seeps through the walls into my apartment. I have heard that the Pax by Ploom makes a great one. What color would you prefer?
    call me, maybe?

  • You can buy me a vaporizer, shiiiit!

    • +1 i immediately started to figure ‘oh man, another narc railing against the demon weed’.. but the offer to buy a vape is great. what a cool guy! i’m sure the neighbor would take you up on it.

  • My neighbors used to primarily smoke pot, but have recently graduated to dippers (smells like a dead animal).

  • I’m not your neighbor but can you buy me a vaporizer too since you’re in a giving mood? They can be pricey

  • I love that you are so judgmental about people who smoke pot that you’re scared “make assumptions” and talk to your neighbors about it. Just knock on their doors and ask if they smoke inside and then have a civil conversation. If you get the wrong door just apologize and try the other side of your house. It’s not like you’re asking them if they’re smoking crack or meth or some other illegal drug.

    • I doubt the OP is “so judgmental” about people who smoke pot. One possible reason why he/she might trying to tread carefully could be that he/she is a newer white resident and the neighbors are black, and he/she doesn’t want to be perceived as “that stuck-up white neighbor who thinks all black people are smoking pot.”

      • ……..or she/he could just be treading carefully because he/she is judgmental about pot smokers and didn’t want to make assumptions someone of smoking pot? I have no idea why you would bring race into this.

      • It’s not about judgment– it’s about the LONG history in which it was illegal to consume marijuana. Hell, it still is illegal in many public in DC, and just over the MD line or Potomac River, it’s still totally illegal in our neighboring communities. Unless we’re habitual pot users, we probably all still walk around with the reflexive response that pot is not allowed. It’s going to take a long time for emotions and attitudes to change about that.

  • I live in an apartment building and for a brief period had some neighbors who would make loud comments in the hallway, which is when I realized opening my windows had the effect of pushing the smoke into the hallway. So I approached one of my neighbors who knows everyone in the building and asked if she had ever smelled it or had someone comment. She said no, so I said “Well, if anyone says something it’s me.” Since she knows I’m a normal working sort, and she knows everyone, she’d tell me if anyone complained.

  • Maybe if we instead push for an increase in pot smoking, there will be less violent crime? Have you ever seen someone high on weed try to chase someone?

    • I’ve also recently encountered this same problem. My neighbors are growing pot (outside- which is still illegal) there was a constant smell in my yard as well as my neighbors for days. At first we didn’t do anything because we didn’t realize growing is only legal within a residence not outside. Ultimately, we decided to leave them a note kindly requesting them to bring their plants inside. Once they brought the plants inside the smell was terrible inside our own house for a few days. Hopefully it won’t happen again.

  • General Grant Circle

    Hard to really say without knowing your living arragenment (english basement? condo? apartment? rowhouse?)
    BUT My suggestion is to broach it the following way:
    “Hey guys/gals have you noticed any smells leaking through the walls into your place? Cooking or perfume or anything? ” and take it from there.

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