The Journey to Legalising Cannabis
The legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational use has not always followed a smooth path. Once a widely vilified plant, marijuana is now accepted in many societies all over the world – but despite its established mental and physical benefits, marijuana consumption is still frowned upon in many conservative societies.
In 2014, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalise the recreational use of cannabis for adults. Following cannabis legalisation in Uruguay, cannabis users around the world became increasingly vocal about their desire to see the plant welcomed in society.
Countries such as Canada and South Africa closely followed after Uruguay. In the United States of America, the legal status of cannabis is a bit more complex. Each state has its own set of laws pertaining the use of cannabis. On a federal level, however, cannabis remains illegal.
Globally, the attitudes on cannabis consumption are rapidly changing. Many are now receptive to the idea of consuming marijuana recreationally. The widespread legalisation of marijuana becomes more likely with each passing day. With the looming possibility of prevalent recreational marijuana use, it is important to consider what effects this could have on the environment – particularly in regards to the smell.
An Outdoor Cannabis Farm. Source
There’s something in the Air
It is an undeniable fact that marijuana has a strong, distinct odour. For cannabis consumers who use the product regularly, the odour might not be offensive. For the rest of the populace, this odour is extremely strong and sometimes unpleasant.
Following the legalisation of marijuana in different communities worldwide, an unexpected dilemma has surfaced – potential air pollution from the plant. Places with heavy cannabis use are taking on the odour of the plant. This poses a strong inconvenience to cannabis and non-cannabis consumers alike.
Communities which experience these odours are usually in close proximity to marijuana farms or growing areas. In these communities, numerous individuals – especially non-cannabis consumers –are put off by the strong smell of the crop. One of these communities is Carpinteria, California.
In Carpinteria, residents have their otherwise picturesque town marred by odours produced by the marijuana farmlands which surround it. Many farmers in the area have taken up marijuana farming as it is now a lucrative business. However, as farmers cash out on the crop, residents pay for it in comfort.
Residents report that the thick odour emitted from the cannabis plants settles over the valley in the evenings and before the break of dawn. This odour is often worsened when temperatures are humid.
To keep the odours away, many residents are resorting to extreme measures such as stuffing pillows under doors and lighting incense. Residents are reluctant to keep doors closed as this also keeps out the cool breeze provided by the ocean.
Similar reports can be found in Pelham, Ontario, where residents face constant light and odour pollution from their local marijuana growers. Residents report that the smell is so strong, it keeps individuals up at night.
250 official complaints related to cannabis were lodged in Metro Vancouver between January 1st, 2015 and July 31st, 2018. All complaints contained some reference to air and also addressed concerns such as light pollution and chemical contaminants. 225 complaints were made in the first seven months of 2018 – after Canada legalised marijuana for recreational purposes.
Air pollution, an unexpected dilemma, has resurfaced as a result of the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use.
In many regions, lawmakers are caught in the middle as legislation protects farmers from disturbances associated with normal farming practise – inclusive of obnoxious odours.
While these odours prove a disturbance to many, some individuals are not as bothered by them. Josh Miner, a long-time resident of Pelham, had some views on the issue that offer a more balanced perspective, “A pungent aroma is a common by-product of any industry,”
“The way I look at it, we’ve been an agricultural area forever and I grew up near a chicken farm,”
“So there’s a negative smell there as well, but nobody has stopped raising chickens.”