Elderly D.C. resident sues aging pot-smoking neighbor over the smell

Just as consumers of marijuana were beginning to enjoy their legal status and the medical benefits that come with it, a lawsuit in Washington D.C. is threatening to ban the smoking of marijuana in multiunit buildings.

Josefa Ippolito-Shepherd, 76, is suing the District of Columbia because she claims the smell coming from her 73-year-old neighbor’s apartment is “invading” the Cleveland Park duplex she’s called home for 30 years.

 

Ippolito-Shepherd told The Washington Post that she tried to have her downstairs neighbor, Thomas Cackett, evicted and she’s ordered Cackett to stop lighting up in his home, but her demands were not met. When she called the cops on Cackett, the officers informed her that they could do nothing as marijuana was now legal in D.C.

“I have the right to breathe fresh air in my home,” Ippolito-Shepherd said. “I’m not talking about if I go to someone else’s house or a place people go to smoke pot. They have the freedom to do whatever. I just do not want to be invaded in my own home.”

 

The smell, she says, is making breathing and sleeping difficult for her, but she will never move from her home, so everybody else should alter the way they live in theirs.

It’s a self-absorbed stance that, sadly, isn’t without precedent.

In 1976, New Jersey’s superior court kicked off a slew of secondhand tobacco smoke regulations when it sided with an office worker who sued the company that employed her because her colleagues were allowed to smoke at their desks.

A mountain of lawsuits followed, and, as a result, today, in the city of Glendale, California — which is lousy with small apartment complexes — it is illegal for someone living in one to smoke a cigarette on their private balcony or patio, in any common areas of the complex, “and within 20 feet of areas where smoking is prohibited.”

In other words, cigarettes are totally legal, but if you light one up, you risk breaking the law.

If successful, Ippolito-Shepherd’s lawsuit will impose the same backdoor ban on marijuana users.

Now, to be fair, even stoners will admit that the smell of marijuana is pungent. There’s a reason it’s often compared to a skunk.

But, as the owner of the adjoining home and Cackett’s landlord, Angella Farserotu, said, Ippolito-Shepherd’s aversion to the smell isn’t her problem.

Both Farserotu and Cackkett “have argued in court that they have no legal responsibility for Ippolito-Shepherd’s ailments,” WaPo reports.

Once a good friend of Ippolito-Shepherd, Farserotu would only tell The Post that she “felt sorry for her,” and Cackett declined to respond to WaPo’s repeated requests for comment.

 

It’s an issue that is bound to come up again and again, as more and more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

In the nation’s capital, where pot was legalized in 2015, it’s clearly something the majority of residents are smelling.

According to a Washington Post poll conducted the year D.C.’s law legalizing marijuana went into effect, 57 percent of residents said they picked up a whiff of pot at least once a month, but “45 percent said the smell didn’t bother them at all” and “fewer than 4 in 10 respondents said the smell bothered them at least to a degree.”

 

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