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I live in the city limits of Seattle. My next-door neighbors smoke cigarettes and marijuana outside their house multiple times a day, with one reliable smoke session between 10 and 10:30 PM. Due to the terrain and prevailing air flows, their smoke flows directly around and past my house on all sides (it's not clear to me if it depends on whether they do their smoking in the front yard, back yard, or what, but suffice it to say that smoke regularly comes on all sides).

As we don't have air conditioning, in the summer we cool our house at night by opening windows and running fans to circulate air. Needless to say, this means that when the neighbors light up, their smoke heads straight into our house, an extremely objectionable situation for us. It is not a faint whiff.

Do we have any legal options to try to put a stop to this? Are there any laws along the lines of "quiet enjoyment of my own home" that could help? Even though marijuana is not illegal in Washington state at the state level, does the fact that it is still illegal at the federal level make a difference?

I know for a fact that the neighbor rents. If I were able to get in touch with their landlord, could there be any action that the landlord could be forced to take to deal with the tenants?

The neighbors are not the type to care about the experience of others or to care much about observing inconvenient laws. One of their close relatives (who lives in the next house farther away) owns a marijuana shop. Their children have bullied mine, and they were unapologetic and angry when approached about it rather than open and receptive.

If we have no legal options here, then something is wrong. It's ridiculous that we would have recourse about objectionably loud noises, but not about sending smoke into our very bedrooms when we're trying to cool off.

[Help with tags would be appreciated.]

  • If you end up having to litigate, an air conditioner may be cheaper... – TTT Jun 7 '16 at 18:15
  • @TTT That is a good point. I'm merely trying to arm myself with information. Knowing the law can give me confidence in a discussion with my neighbors. – ErikE Jun 7 '16 at 20:36
  • Agreed. Oftentimes just the mention of involving other parties or taking further action is enough to get the desired results. – TTT Jun 7 '16 at 20:53
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One option is an odor complaint filed with pscleanair, however Seattle's Department of Planning and Development opines that marijuana smell is not harmful. You can always try suing -- nuisance, breach of statutory duty to keep the premises habitable, breach of the common law covenant of peaceful enjoyment, negligence, harassment, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress – these guys (non-smokers) are not very encouraging about legal options. Also trespass, which was the first thing that came to my mind but they didn't mention. Merrill v. Bosser, No. 05-4239 COCE 53 (Broward County Ct., June 29, 2005) is an example of successful litigation based on trespass.

  • Those are useful places to start. Thank you! However, please note that "marijuana smell" is the smell of the growing plants themselves and is undoubtedly a different issue than the smell of burning marijuana--though it's good to know about such peripheral information. – ErikE Jun 6 '16 at 22:05

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