When the smell of pot gets too strong in her Ottawa apartment, the only thing Karen Azar can think to do is place a wet towel at the bottom of her front door.
“When the use is really bad, you can actually see a haze of smoke that comes through,” Azar says.
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Azar, who suffers from asthma, says she has to resort to wearing a mask at times, saying the odour is overwhelming. She even puts one on her dog, as her pet suffers from allergies.
“You don’t even have to open the door to smell it, you can just stand in your apartment and get stoned,” Azar said in a recent interview with CTV Ottawa.
Azar, a former smoker, says she understands a tenant’s right to smoke in their own units, but she’s also concerned about her own right to healthy living. She wants her landlord, Urbandale, to take action.
“The landlord has to take into account, and they should be taking into account, how it affects the people that don’t do drugs and that don’t smoke cigarettes, and they’re not doing enough for us,” Azar said.
The landlord of her building, Urbandale, says noise is actually a bigger complaint than smoke and that they have to weigh the rights of all tenants.
The Ottawa Council on Smoking or Health says the issue of second-hand pot smoke is in the spotlight as Ottawa looks to possibly legalize marijuana use in Canada.
“We are getting more and more complaints from individuals who are affected by marijuana second-hand smoke in multi-unit dwellings,” Council member Carmela Graziani told CTV Ottawa.
The council is working with legislators to try and address the issue, and applauds landlords such as Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation, which operates five smoke-free buildings.
“We’ve actually served more than 15 eviction notices against tenants who have been smoking on our properties,” says Ray Sullivan, executive director at Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation.
He told CTV Ottawa that tenants are pushing for smoke-free buildings, and his company is planning to provide more.
“People are recognizing their right to not have to experience second-hand smoke and when marijuana smoke becomes legal, I think people are going to recognize their right not to be second-hand stoned,” Sullivan said.
But don’t ask Karen Azar to hold her breath waiting for that day. She’ll continue wearing the mask in her apartment.
With a report by CTV Ottawa’s Joanne Schnurr