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Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

Postby bluegrasslady » Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:27 pm

Hello! I wonder if anyone can tell me what the current laws are regarding smoking marijuana in apartment buildings.

I live in a building that has mostly rent-stabilized units. A couple are market rent and a couple are rent controlled.

Over the last few months one of the tenants started using marijuana (we believe it is someone who recently moved in). We know the floor, but are not sure which apartment (but have narrowed it down to two or three). We have infants, small children and several elderly in the building. The smell of this is not of the "old fashioned pot" from 20 years ago, but a real **stench** of the modern hyper-potent pot. It seems chemically treated, and the stench lingers and lingers.

I am getting headaches from it (the person lives just below me, or below and just one apartment over). This week I came home and as soon as I entered the vestibule the stench hit me. It was overwhelming. (This apartment building has over 50 units.)

The landlord has been informed several times but has done nothing, saying they don't know who it is.

The superintendent claims to know who it is but will not reveal the person's name. (Note: The super is probably lying, just to be annoying, which is a pattern of his).

The Metropolitan Council on Housing suggested talking to the tenant, to let them know that their pot usage is disturbing other tenants. But we're not sure who it is.

I had the idea to put flyers under the doors of the units of the possible offender, saying something like:

"Hello, Neighbor.

If you are the person(s) smoking pot, please be aware that it is very offensive to many neighbors of yours in the building, including several infants, small children and elderly. It is deleterious to our health and you are creating a nuisance.

Please stop smoking pot in your apartment and in the building. If you continue, we will be forced to take whatever measures are necessary to require you to do so elsewhere.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Your neighbors"

Does anyone on the board have any advice/insight/feedback?

Thank you so much!
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Re: Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

Postby TenantNet » Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:41 pm

I don't watch it that closely, but I believe medical marijuana is now legal in NYS. Who knows how long it will be until recreational pot is also legal -- that seems to be the trend across the country. Apparently pot is still illegal at the Federal level, but for casual users, I don't think the Feds make it a priority. I'm sure there are sites like High Times that can give you info on the legality of the weed.

You might look at it from a smoking (tobacco) view. LLs can put in leases prohibitions against smoking in public areas of buildings, and for new tenants taking occupancy. But for RS tenants who have been in place for years, the LL is prohibited by law from changing the terms and conditions of a RS tenant's lease. There has been a good amount of litigation on this front, and consistently the courts have taken this view. Smoking tobacco is still lawful. So if someone wants to smoke in their own apartments, the LL is powerless to stop it. If I wanted to light-up in the confines of my RS unit, I have every right to do so.

I do not know if a case can be made about smoke/smell that leaks out into adjoining units or public areas. I would think if that occurs, it's the LLs obligation to seal the unit (within reason) so the smell doesn't impact others.

Perhaps that is why some suggest the first step is to speak to the tenant. Either they will try to accommodate their neighbors, or they will be jerks.
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Re: Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

Postby bluegrasslady » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:09 pm

I hear you. But tobacco smoke does not have the intensity, and tendency to linger the way this awful stuff does. At least cigarette smoke disperses. This stuff just hangs in the air like a horrible invisible clutching cloud.

One night at 10:30 I entered my bathroom and the entire room was filled with the awful smell. The pot smoker must have been in the bathroom blowing it out the window. I literally had to hook up a fan to attempt to blow it out.

According to 311, pot smoking is illegal. They told me that if it was happening *now,* I should call 911. When I contacted them they took the report and sent it to the local precinct. But if it's not happening at that moment there's not much to be done.

I don't give a hang who does what in their apartment, as long as it doesn't have an adverse effect on me and my neighbors. Maybe I'll slip the note under the door and suggest they make pot brownies instead -- that way everyone will be happy.

Thanks for your quick response!
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Re: Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

Postby bluegrasslady » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:11 pm

P.S. The legal, medical marijuana is not in the dried "weed," rollable form -- it's in a serum of sorts.
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Re: Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

Postby TenantNet » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:49 pm

Smoke - either tobacco or pot - is in the eye of the beholder. It's not necessarily "awful" to those that like the smell. So it's best not to approach this from moral grounds.

Also, people react in different ways, and different degrees. I was a longtime tobacco smoker for many years. I've been tobacco-free for 12-13 years now, and wouldn't consider taking even one puff. But, I still love the smell of lingering cigarette smoke. That's just me. I swore I would not turn into one of those people who get completely bent out of shape if they thought there was a cigarette within 500 miles.

I'm not suggesting you should be OK with it if it's over-bearing, but some people do over-react to both kinds of smoke. Look for a solution.

As I said above, recreational grass is not (yet) legal. But it is also decriminalized for the most part. Calling 911 is for when people are being assaulted, not when someone tokes up. If they're selling grass, that's one thing. But if it's within their own apartment, you would be wasting the police's time from more important issues. You would do better to put greater pressure on your LL.
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Re: Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

Postby bluegrasslady » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:22 am

TN -- Yeah, I guess some people might enjoy it. But none of the people in the building whom I've spoken with like it. In fact it's very offensive. It might be different if it were fleeting. But for some reason this "new-fangled" pot is not quick to disperse.

I agree with you that 911 should not be used for this purpose. I wish 311 had told me something else. Still, they took a report for a non-emergency.

The landlord and super have received numerous complaints already and are doing nothing. To them it's a non-issue. But it's NOT a non-issue for many of the people in the building--including babies, young children and our elderly. This is why I called 311 and why I came to the board, to see if anyone had any experience/wisdom to share.

Incidentally, I am a former smoker too. After so many bad experiences as a smoker, I too swore not to be one of those people that stops you in the middle of the sidewalk and says, "You should quit" or something much worse.

But this hyper-potent pot is different. I don't care if the person does it. I wouldn't care if the smell only lasted a minute. But it hangs in the air sometimes for hours.

Thank you very much for your responses. They've been very helpful.
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Re: Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

Postby TenantNet » Sun Oct 13, 2019 11:04 am

I can't say what disperses and what doesn't. The point is to find a solution and avoid being dogmatic about it. Don't allow mob mentality to control things. Don't invoke kids and infants--they don't know or couldn't care.

With the LL you must document things: make sure you've identified the tenant and when and how often they are toking. Nothing will get the LL's interest like a good old-fashioned tenant association and threats of rent strike. You can put up signs and have a meeting. Invite the LL. At the beginning I would refrain from threatening the LL (so the LL won't ever-react), but put legal action perhaps last on a long list of possible options. This is not you vs. the LL; this is you looking for a solution.

Again, find out who is doing it and speak with the tenant first. That you must do.

But again, a person smoking weed in their apartment -- even if stronger than you would like -- is not the same thing as drug dealers operating out of your building.
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Re: Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

Postby bluegrasslady » Sun Oct 13, 2019 11:13 am

The kids smell it and they hate it because it makes it hard to breathe. I have a 9-year old neighbor who has volunteered to put notices under the doors. So please don't assume that kids don't know or couldn't care. When you can't breathe you can't breathe.
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Re: Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

Postby sr77 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:06 pm

I (and at least one other tenant) experienced what seems to be the identical issue.

Fortunately, I was pretty sure where it was coming from and guessed correctly.

Leaving a note was all it took.

If that doesn't work for bluegrasslady I would think this would certainly qualify as a 'nuisance' and 'quality of life' (warranty of habitability) issue, especially if the effect 'lingers.'

I wasn't even aware that smoking marijuana in a NYC apartment building is apparently now completely legal. (Is it?)
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Re: Marijuana smoker -- how do we get it to stop?

Postby TenantNet » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:35 pm

If you read above, medical marijuana is now legal; passive recreational grass is not. Even so, it's been decriminalized and the police put it at a low priority (if even that). https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/28/nyre ... b4fc9d2825

and

https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/ne ... -summonses

Just google "nyc police response to marijuana" and you'll see a number of articles on this.

Even if the police were to get involved, it might be restricted to those selling the weed, not the casual user. And I don't know if a smell is sufficient to create probably cause.

The point is there are better ways to handle this.

From a legal standpoint, "nuisance" might not always be what we think of when we use the term. For a LL to be successful if he were to bring a nuisance holdover -- if scaring the tenant doesn't work -- the suit would possibly be tossed. Quality of live does not equate to warranty of habitability. They are different animals.

Let's close this out; conventional wisdom is that identifying and communicating with the tenant is probably the best course.
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