Pot smoke not legally ‘offensive’ in Oregon

State says burnt-marijuana odor does not put anyone in physical danger

Rica Madrid poses for a photograph as she smokes pot in her home on the first day of legal possession of marijuana for recreational purposes. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Rica Madrid poses for a photograph as she smokes pot in her home on the first day of legal possession of marijuana for recreational purposes. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If you’re offended by the smell of your neighbor’s marijuana smoke it appears, for now, you may be out of luck.

This week, the Oregon Court of Appeals refused to declare the smell of wafting marijuana ‘unpleasant’ or ‘physically offensive’.

While some cities are working to legislate against the smell, in Portland, nothing in the books declares pot smoke a nuisance.

In places like Washington County, city officials do measure and enforce codes against certain smells. But the most offending odors on the list do not include marijuana.

Former U.S. Marine Sgt. Ryan Begin smokes medical marijuana at his home. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Former U.S. Marine Sgt. Ryan Begin smokes medical marijuana at his home. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

“Generally it’s for commercial activity that impacts either commercial businesses or a residence,” Ross Caron with the Portland Bureau of Development Services said.

According to Caron, the only smoke infringement the city can currently call a violation is one that’s caused by commercial activity.

“An example could be a barbecue restaurant where their barbecuing facility puts off a lot of smoke and that is wafting over into a neighboring property,” he explained.

‘Nuisance’ is the key word, and according to city officials, the smell of weed isn’t something that warrants official complaints.

In documents obtained by KOIN 6 News, the Oregon Court of Appeals declared, “for a condition to be hazardous or physically offensive, it must create some physical harm or danger.” It continued by stating the odor of burnt-marijuana does not put anyone in physical danger.

“City odor regulations don’t apply to the personal use of cigarettes, pipes or marijuana,” Caron said.

So, what is a ‘physically offensive’ odor? According to the state, it’s something that, “must be offensive to the senses rather than morally or intellectually offensive.”

Garbage and rotten eggs are examples of smells the Oregon Court of Appeals said could be harmful to the senses.

“We’re not prepared to declare that the odor of marijuana smoke is equivalent to the odor of garbage,” documents stated.

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