In a recent opinion piece in The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper and news website, Robert Everett-Green notes that Canada is starting to smell different. As full legalization approaches, he is smelling marijuana in places where until recently users would get arrested. (He specifically mentions downtown Montreal.)

What about the smell?

This new smell is as displeasing to some as tobacco smoke is, and he reports that some Montreal landlords are already putting no-weed-smoking clauses into their rental contracts. Not long ago, tobacco smoking was permitted in many public places, including airplanes. Now it is frowned upon or illegal to smoke tobacco in most of them. It seems likely, therefore, that once marijuana is fully legal in Canada, there will be a backlash against its smell. On the other hand, the rights of users of medical marijuana to treat their illnesses will be in conflict with this already-beginning drive against the smell.

Everett-Green’s piece does not go beyond these observations, but it seems clear that with legalization, the smell will become a legal battle. And given how successful the movement to ban second-hand tobacco smoke has been, it also seems likely that marijuana smokers and vapers will soon find themselves on the defensive. While marijuana’s smoke and vapor is not claimed to be as dangerous to human health as tobacco’s, some people are nauseated by the smell, and they are not likely to be tolerant of people burning or vaporizing marijuana in places where the same practices with tobacco are banned.

Vape pens could provide a solution

One possible solution is already on the market: vape pens. An NPR report on these devices mentions Chris Folkerts, who went from “selling vape pens out of the trunk of his car” to an established business, Grenco Science, which “has 6,000 square feet of prime real estate in central Los Angeles.” There are many vape pens and other discreet vaporizers now on the market. They typically use concentrate, so they do not generate the clouds of smoke that come from using bongs, nor the smell of vaporizers that use bud. Vape pens may soon become the norm for renters and others who want to use discreetly.

On landlord forums, landlords are already discussing how to resolve the conflict between complaining tenants and users. It is legal for landlords to contractually prohibit pets, smoking, and other things that are legal in owned homes. For users at home who don’t want neighbor complaints, another method besides vape pens is filters and purifiers. There are even products specifically designed (or at least marketed) to capture marijuana’s smell. Users of a certain age can reminisce about towels stuffed under the door, air freshener sprays, and incense. And, of course, there are edibles.

Nevertheless, it seems likely that even discreet vaporizers will annoy some sensitive noses and that people will take steps to ban the use of vaporizers of any type in public places. Signs are appearing in restaurants, for example, saying that people who bring strong marijuana smells with them will not be served. Thus while marijuana may soon become legal, its smell may also soon be as unwelcome to use in public–or shared housing–as tobacco now is.

What do you think: Will vape pens be banned in public? What about odorless strains? Leave a comment below.


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