Disclaimer – My apologies at the outset for the passion and length of this post, as many within my faithful blog audience are aware I’m an educator and a writer, so it’s admittedly difficult to limit my thoughts (especially on a subject so close to home)…anyway, here goes –
Background/Introduction: I am a middle-aged Black woman (and native Detroiter), who has never, and doesn’t plan to ever, smoke. As such, I should not suffer the current level of injury, insult and harm I am experiencing DAILY at the hands of my neighbors who incessantly smoke marijuana all day/every day. Within the past several years, I have been blessed to morph from being a lifelong educator/school administrator to a small business owner. This is relevant because I now live and work from home 24-7. This is sadly both a blessing and a curse, because my life has now been reduced to a state of inescapable exposure to second-hand marijuana use from both sides, but one neighbor in particular, with their smoking resulting in my: daily headaches, mood swings, burning eyes/throat and countless sleepless nights.
Needless to say I am livid, am seriously considering moving and have essentially lost my quality of life as a Detroit resident. Although I have consulted my family at length on this issue, they have advised me not to engage in an all-out war with my seemingly “addicted neighbor(s)” for fear of the possible negative consequences. However, in the vein of my own right to a therapeutic release and perhaps as a last-ditch effort for support – I have drafted a letter I would ideally like to share with my elder White, male neighbor (on one side), and young Black couple neighbors (on the other side) whose daily indulgences have literally rendered me a victim in my home, with no discernible form of recourse.
As marijuana use becomes increasingly normalized, it’s important for people to exercise common decency and etiquette when indulging, if even for prescribed medicinal purposes. I am truly suffering and feel compelled to communicate the degree to which my optimal health and quality of life have been deleteriously affected by your constant (morning, afternoon and evening) marijuana smoking habits.
Of course, we have been neighbors in good standing for years . . . our daily greetings, exchange of pleasantries and your warmth and positive spirit towards my daughter and I even prompted me to invite you (and your mate), to her high school Open House. We could not have been more thrilled than when you joined us on the Riverfront, for our formal celebration and gifted her with a card, cash and your well-wishes as she headed off to college! Our history, in my opinion, has always been one of equal admiration and that of extended family, or at the very least community camaraderie. This positive history however, does not make this hard truth any easier to deliver, as I fear it stands to potentially threaten our ability to continue to co-exist harmoniously in such an affable manner. I pray that this is not the case, and that we are able to devise of a feasible schedule (?), by which you duly exercise your daily indulgences and I make it a priority to be outside of the comforts of my own home. But honestly, something has got to give!
In my frustration with enduring excessive headaches and existing in a smoke-filled haze within the past several weeks that I have worked arduously on a pending client contract, I sought out several peer-reviewed and published studies to support (or refute) my contention that my health was being negatively impacted. What I discovered may surprise you. Studies indicate that exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke can have health and safety risks for the general public, especially due to its similar composition to secondhand tobacco smoke. They cite, among other things that “Regardless of the debate of possible benefits of marijuana products, there is simply no need to use them inside shared air spaces (such as workplaces, public places, and multi-unit housing) where others are then subject to the hazardous secondhand smoke or secondhand aerosol from electronic smoking devices. Just like traditional cigarettes, marijuana should be used in ways that don’t impact the health of others”. This finding is pivotal given that our neighborhood is replete with multi-unit housing complexes.
It is an inarguable fact that “Nobody should have to breathe secondhand marijuana smoke at work or where they live, learn, shop, or play. Smoke is smoke and marijuana smoke is a form of indoor air pollution. Therefore, it is important to strengthen all smokefree laws – both existing and new – to include marijuana in the definitions of smoking and vaping”.
In case, you might be inclined to seek remedies outside of merely ceasing and desisting with the current behavior of incessant smoking (for the sake of others), it is also important to consider that ventilation is NOT a feasible remedy. Because these same studies advise that “As has been proven time and time again, ventilation does not eliminate all the poisonous toxins and chemical components of secondhand smoke. The science is clear. Ventilation systems or air cleaning technologies may reduce odor, but they do not address the serious health risks caused by secondhand smoke exposure”. Ultimately, there is clear evidence that your incessant marijuana smoking habits, are inextricably tied to the quality of the very air that I and my family breathe…this is problematic and unacceptable, especially considering that your smoking begins as early as 7:00 am EVERYDAY and continues throughout the day with a documented cessation at or around midnight.
Research shows that “negative health impacts, especially to the cardiovascular system, occur quickly even at extremely low levels of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke. The only way to eliminate the health hazards of secondhand smoke is by having a 100% smoke-free environment”. As local community residents, we are blessed to live in such close proximity to large, open air spaces/parks – that I beg of you to engage in your indulgences off-site as a considerate means to avoid compromising the health of your neighbors (and other loved ones).
As a longtime city resident and neighbor, I am entitled to and faithfully intend to exercise my right to enjoy a 100% smoke-free home environment. I welcome your immediate support, thoughtful recommendations and potential solutions to that end.
Your disgusted and second-hand smoke repelled neighbor
Protecting Nonsmokers from Secondhand Marijuana Smoke – American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://no-smoke.org/protecting-nonsmokers-secondhand-marijuana-smoke/
Ortega-Welch, M. (2018, March 19). Are There Risks From Secondhand Marijuana Smoke? Early Science Says Yes [Video blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/03/19/592873218/are-there-risks-from-secondhand-marijuana-smoke-early-science-says-yes