DC residents complain about pot smoke in condos, apartments

The District passed a law legalizing pot use in residences, but the city did not specify how to control the smoke going into other apartments and condos or public areas. 

Now, some residents are complaining about the smoke, and building managers are trying to figure out how to handle the new problem.

Many people in D.C. live in apartments or condos, and the smoke goes through the air vents and under doors. So, whether you want to or not, you may be inhaling. 

Veretta Swann and her daughter live in an apartment building in Northwest. 

The sign in the lobby says, "We are proud to offer a smoke free environment." However, some residents are ignoring the policy.

Swann walked down the hall of her floor with me. "When you get off the elevator right there, you get a contact. When you are walking down this hallway, you get high. You get cigarette smoke. You get weed smoke," she said. 

Swann's nine-year-old daughter has asthma. They usually have the windows closed, but the marijuana still seeps in through the vents and under the door. 

"As you can see outside our window, a small courtyard--so whatever apartment is smoking weed, we get it," she said. "I've gone to management, and I've asked them, ‘What about tenants who live here who have health issues?' I have a daughter who is a severe asthmatic, who is on a nebulizer."

Swann said the building management will not do anything about it. 


At the Imperial House Condominium on 18th Street, the manager sent out a notice from the condo board that owners and tenants have to "take measures" to ensure the smell of marijuana does not affect other units or common areas. 

Allison Goff rents a condo in Imperial House. "Cigarette smoke bothers me a lot more because it sticks around for a lot longer. Pot smoke just kinda goes away it seems like pretty quickly," she said. 

Maron Turner lives in a different D.C. condo. "Given the reasons behind there being a ban on nicotine cigarettes, it would extend seamlessly to marijuana in the sense that you don't want smoke where other people are inhaling secondhand smoke," she said. 

Charles Gibbs lives in a row house in D.C. 

"Do you smoke pot?" I asked. 

"Yes I do," replied Gibbs. 

"Do you smoke pot in your house?" I asked. 

"Outsides, yeah," he said. 

"And have any of your neighbors complained?" 

"No, none," said Gibbs. 

For residents who do have complaints, Mayor Muriel Bowser says go to your management. 

"The same regulations that apply to smoking of any kind in apartment buildings or condo buildings- owners can set their own rules," the mayor said on Wednesday

What about people like Swann, whose apartment won't help her?

"It is up to apartment buildings and condo buildings to regulate their smoking policies," the mayor responded. 

There are no easy answers to this problem. And perhaps that is why the city left it to the buildings to figure out how to make everyone happy at home. 

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