Medical marijuana odors: Boulder battles the funk

Talk about the smell of success.

Apparently Boulder now has so many MMJ businesses that folks all over are complaining about the ever-present aroma of pot in the air -- and officials are struggling to clear the air.

As reported by the Boulder Daily Camera last week, city staff are currently investigating at least seven complaints of marijuana odors. A memorandum on the issue sent to Boulder's city council noted the offending smells have been coming from both dispensaries and grow facilities and have apparently forced two business to relocate.

So how can the city fight the funk? City officials passed a rule last year that instituted fines up to $1,000 for wayward pot aromas, but that only goes for businesses, not for private citizens dabbling with the skunky stuff in the privacy of their own homes.

Then there's the question of what, exactly, constitutes a code-breaking whiff. According to city rules, medical marijuana operations must use ventilation and other measures so their medicine "cannot be detected by a person with a normal sense of smell" off the premises. But who gets to decide what's a normal sense of smell? And why should a faint hint of pot be any worse than, say, the stink of coffee emanating from Starbucks or the stench of Fryolator oil wafting out of Wendy's?

Here's a better solution to Boulder's stinky situation, one many of the city's residents have been utilizing for decades: Just plant lots and lots of patchouli.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical Marijuana: Mobile care program gets blessing of health dept. advisory committee."

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner