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The P.E.I. government announced Thursday the legal age for marijuana use will be 19 and that it will be sold through stand-alone retail stores under the province’s liquor control commission.
The P.E.I. government announced the legal age for marijuana use will be 19 and that it will be sold through stand-alone retail stores under the province’s liquor control commission. - File photo

Tobacco smells do not seem to pervade neighborhood same way that marijuana smoke does

BY OLE HAMMARLUND

GUEST OPINION

For quite a few years, when walking the streets of Charlottetown, I have noticed the whiffs of marijuana in the air. As it happens, that particular smell is easy to identify, pervasive and usually it’s impossible to tell where it comes from.

Now that we are nearing the moment when it is legal to buy, grow and smoke pot, there seems to be an increased occurrence of pot smoke in the street, as if people are anticipating the big event. Meanwhile, as more and more buildings have been declared tobacco free, you see people huddled outside buildings taking their smoke break and you can small as you walk by. But tobacco smells do not seem to pervade the neighborhood the same way that marijuana smoke does.

other smells float in the air. My wife, for instance, is very sensitive to the smell coming from people’s dryers when they use dryer sheets. Maybe it is because the sheets contain a nerve-toxin? Whatever the reason, she gets sick when she encounters the smell on the street. Then there is the smell from pesticides from people who have bribed the city with $50 to get an exemption from the pesticide ban. Then, of course, there is that special Charlottetown smell of rotting compost due to too infrequent pick-up of the green bins. So, we are invaded by smells from every direction and why do we battle some smells but not others?

The strange thing is, that just as we can soon celebrate the legalization of marijuana, communities and building owners are falling over themselves to make it against the rules to live in a rented apartment and smoke the stuff. Meanwhile, seniors’ homes have a serious problem dealing with their smokers using the also legal tobacco.

Now, as an architect, I know that if there are smells in the hallways of a building, be it food, tobacco or pot, the reason is simply a poorly designed or maintained exhaust system. Or in some cases, inconsiderate people smoking in the hallways.

We Canadians consider ourselves blessed with freedom. If you are lucky and own your own suburban home, you can soon smoke, grow and cook whatever smelly stuff you wish. But if you only own a condo, rent an apartment or live in a seniors’ home, your rights to enjoy life will be severely limited. It is not right, it’s not the Canadian way and it’s probably unconstitutional.

Canadians have been battling in the courts for decades to verify other rights, such as to marry the person they want to be with or having the kind of sex they enjoy. I should think that our individual rights also include the right to smoke and grow what you want as long as it does not interfere with others rights to enjoy their own smoke and smell free life.

Apartment owners, condo boards and housing authorities should please get it together and install and maintain proper ventilation and exhaust systems, so that Canadians can enjoy their rights and their life, even if they live next door to each other and have different habits. I know such systems can be designed and built and it will even create local jobs getting the work done.

-  Ole Hammarlund is an architect and has designed many seniors’ homes, co-op housing projects and condominiums. He can be reached at olehammarlund@gmail.com

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