11

I work in a decent company with good people in California (marijuana is legal). In one of the office buildings we rent, there are two marijuana-related companies. One of them is right next door to us and the smell goes through the shared roof space (where the ductwork and electrical is routed) and enters our office. Disclaimer: My company is not the other marijuana-related company :P

I don't know what the legal aspects of this are, but management has been notified and hasn't done anything about it over the course of my tenure here (appx 1 yr). They work in a different building where the smell doesn't reach.

It really reeks of marijuana every day at work and I'm concerned about the health consequences it might have (there are two papers published so far (that I'm aware of) mechanistically linking first-hand exposure to psychosis and schizophrenia, among other things, but not the place to discuss that here). What can be done to convince management to contact the building managers and properly separate the shared roof space (or whatever else might be the problem)?

  • Is it legal for the company to produce this smell that bothers other tenants in a commercial property?
  • Is my company responsible for any mitigation?
  • Is the landlord responsible?

EDIT -

The company next door does extractions from the marijuana plant. I'm not sure if the smell contains CBD or THC. If I were to venture a guess, I would say yes because the smell has different tinges to it day-to-day depending on what they are extracting with. ie it can be coffee+marijuana smell one morning and chocolatey marijuana the next. No joke, we've had a cocoa-puffs+marijuana smell once too. If that stuff is getting out then I'm pretty sure that their extraction process is not scrubbing air properly.

  • 5
    Some relevant reading for you. California DOSH indoor air quality policy: dir.ca.gov/DOSHPol/P&PC-48.HTM and the OSHA indoor air quality guide: osha.gov/SLTC/indoorairquality – dwizum Sep 11 at 19:05
  • Can you be re-located to a different office? – sf02 Sep 11 at 19:31
  • @sf02 - I asked, but alas that would be difficult as the company doesn't have extra desks. – Joe B Sep 11 at 19:49
  • @dwizum I quickly went through those two links. Thanks! Since I don't have any evidence of any negative health consequences of secondhand exposure (nothing published there yet since the health outcomes of marijuana are such a new area of research), I think it would be categorized as a 'nonserious complaint'. It affects 6 employees all day and at least 3 others intermittently. How would one go about bringing this up in a tactful manner? – Joe B Sep 11 at 19:57
  • 1
    Question, does it smell like the plant or does it smell like the smoke? One thing is the smoke marijuana produces, which is the one that has the well-know effects and it is produced by burning the plant. The other smell, is the "natural" smell the plant reeks on it's own. That smell does not bring the "high" nor the benefits/drawbacks of smoking. So, what is it? Are they smoking or is it the natural smell of the plant? – DarkCygnus Sep 11 at 20:04
14

It really reeks of marijuana every day at work and I'm concerned about the health consequences it might have

It's important to differentiate between the smoke and the natural smell of the plant.

The smoke is the one that has the "high" effect, and also the one that contains the chemicals known to produce such high (CBD, THC, whatever else it has).

Now, the natural smell of the plant is harmless. It's like, say, the smell of a rose or lavender. It's because the aromatic chemicals the plant (and any thing in general) has, that stimulate the nose and produce the smell. But they don't contain THC nor CBD (that is, you can't get high by smelling the plant without burning).

Another example would be tobacco. Raw tobacco has a particular smell (also harmless), but burnt tobacco has quite a different one (and is in fact where the harmful chemicals are released).


So. If it is smoke, and they are smoking on the office next door, then that would be a valid complaint, as I am sure smoking inside building is not allowed in most countries I know, even less in office buildings.

But if it's just the "natural" smell of the raw plant then that is harmless and perhaps not a valid point for a complaint. If that is the case, consider getting a diffuser scent machine or similar (like those applied in bathrooms) to counteract the smell of the plant.

Anyways, if this is bothering you and your coworkers I say it's ok if you tell your manager about this and ask them what can be done in this situation.

Another thing is that, perhaps, this is not the right office building for your company to be, and you could do better somewhere else (perhaps an office building focused on tech, or whatever your field is). This, however, may be something that is out of your hands to achieve.

  • Hmmm so the company next door does extractions from the marijuana plant. I'm not sure if the smell contains CBD or THC. If I were to venture a guess, I would say yes because the smell has different tinges to it day-to-day depending on what they are extracting with. ie it can be coffee+marijuana smell one morning and chocolatey marijuana the next. No joke, we've had a cocoa-puffs+marijuana smell once too. If that stuff is getting out then I'm pretty sure that their extraction process is not scrubbing air properly. – Joe B Sep 11 at 20:44
  • 1
    @JoeB No, different strains for marijuana have different natural smells, and that is what you are smelling (not the smoke), even more in countries and states where it's legal there seems to be all sorts of strains – DarkCygnus Sep 11 at 20:46
  • Interesting. My coworkers always said they made different flavoured extracts by mixing marijuana with other things. I have never been there or asked them what they do. – Joe B Sep 11 at 20:48
  • 1
    Also if those smells are disturbing OP it might be be grounds to some action or at least to push management. Bad working conditions lower efficiency. I know if it was OP's apartment and not office it could be grounds to a lawsuit here in Poland. – Jan Dorniak Sep 11 at 21:38
  • 1
    @JoeB I am really sure it's not smoke. Smoking inside buildings is not allowed so I doubt they are doing that. Anyways, like Jan said, if this is disturbing you and your coworkers then perhaps consider telling your manager about what can be done here – DarkCygnus Sep 11 at 21:40
3

Unless the offices next to your office are "hot-boxing" their offices, I can nearly guarantee that you are not getting any contact with THC or CBD.

These chemicals are only present in the air when the plant material is heated to the point of where THC becomes THC-A (activated THC that gives the effects) or if concentrations are heated to the point of vaporization. However, I can totally understand disliking the smell as it can be extremely pungent. I would suggest bringing it up to management along with any of the other resources provided by the other answers on this post (laws/regulations they may be breaking).

Make sure your concerns are well-founded and well-researched. If you went in and incorrectly stated you were getting THC and CBD from the smells, they might discredit the rest of what you have to say.

There should absolutely be some sort of way to filter the smell out at least somewhat. Whether that's adding increased air filtering in the AC system, creating more of a physical barrier in that shared roof space, or some other type of filtration.

  • You're probably right about the approach, but I'm not sure about the science bit. If they are doing some kind of distillation process to get certain compounds out then it might get released (depending on the temp, etc). If it's just a chemical extraction then you're probably right. – Joe B Sep 13 at 17:20
  • 1
    @JoeB THC is extremely valuable to a company who's job deals with the production of marijuana products. Many of the products are priced and rated by the percentages of THC they contain. I would assume they are doing everything possible to not lose THC – Matt Sep 14 at 18:12
2

This happened to me at a facility I worked for concerning Vaping of staff and visitors who came in the building.

The problem was that the management smoked them too.

I went to HR stating that vaping, just like smoking indoors should be considered the same type of violation. I also stated that I personally should not be subject with these chemicals swarming around everywhere not only for unknown hazards as Vaping is not long studied, but also the fact that the different flavors of the vape juice gave me bad migraines.

Both of the above reasons should make the action of vaping indoors illegal if only for the health concerns of the non vaping individuals.

My HR was smart and saw potential legal problems if they didn’t put a stop to vaping inside so it was banned from the offices.

I would assume you could go above management as well and bring it up in a similar way about marijuana.

  • For me this is lack of putting down a set of house rules. I work in a tobacco company and the basic rules are 1) Normal cigarettes only in designated areas (that have specially designed ventilation), 2) For vaping or HTPs you have to ask everybody in the room if they consent, and absolutely no consequences if you say "no". I'm known for having migraines triggered by a few flavors of vape juices, so I bar vaping in my general proximity if it is the flavor that triggers me. – Juliana Karasawa Souza Sep 12 at 7:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.