For nearly the last quarter century, American couples have been moving in together at higher rates. In 2019, the Pew Research Center analyzed data from the National Survey of Family Growth, concluding that the rate of U.S. couples cohabitating increased from 3% to 7% between 1995 and 2019.
Whether planning to marry or for other reasons, millions of couples live together in America. It’s a rather significant milestone that takes people by surprise. Challenges come in many forms, from communication changes to financial worries to losing personal space. Differences in opinion and living habits are sure to rear their head early and potentially often. One significant sticking point can be pot use, specifically its dank, lingering aroma.
I recently moved in with my girlfriend after a year and some change of dating. The stress of moving in together has undoubtedly been real. Thankfully, pot smoke hasn’t been a terrible issue, but it has been one we’ve discussed a few times over the past few months. Coming from my last apartment, where my dog and I ran the place and smoke dominated the bedroom and bathroom, my girlfriend had minor concerns about the smell of the new place.
I agreed with her for a few reasons: As a mostly vape and edible consumer, heavy pot smells were something she didn’t dislike but didn’t regularly surround herself with. Additionally, our new nine-unit Brooklyn building had at least one set of kids aged five or under. The last thing I wanted to do was cause some situation between the parents and me over the smell. That concern may seem over the top to some, but hey, this neighborhood is Park Slope adjacent. That’s where Williamsburg’s aging hipsters go when they want to become bougie-rich Brooklyn parents with opinions nobody asked for.
I had a few options to test out and possibly collab for the perfect solution. My top choice was the balcony. While an ideal outdoor option, I did run into two potential pitfalls. The neighbor I share a balcony with sleeps with their window open, and I don’t know how 420-friendly they are at this point. Also, it’s cold as hell in New York in the winter. Not like a Midwest cold, but it’s still brutal until at least mid-March.
Without wanting to get off on the wrong foot with my neighbors, and more so not piss off my partner, I turned to a few classic options to varying success:
- Smokeless options: Weed tech is a beautiful thing. Today, we can enjoy weed in numerous odorless forms, from vapes to edibles to distillates to topicals. To some extent, oil and flower vapes work for me, and I enjoy high-dose edibles to end the night. But I have to admit that smoking flower is still my preferred option. The others are fine but don’t make me feel as satisfied as flower does.
- Smoke Outside: Aside from days when the New York weather is unbearable, smoking outside may be the best option. As part of New York’s legalization bill, adults can consume cannabis anywhere cigarette smoking is allowed. This option could get riskier depending on how the law is in your state or city.
- Opening the Windows and Doors: A little fresh air is always good for you and any dank parts of the apartment. Kind of like the balcony, this option can make the place colder than you’re comfortable with. I typically do this when my girlfriend is out, but if she’s cool with it, I’ll close the door in the living room and open the balcony door while I re-watch the hit TV show Oz.
- Odor Killers Of Many Kinds: Our place is fragrant as all get out. From incense to candles to Palo Santo and more, we burn a bunch of stuff to make the home smell pleasing. I also use plenty of them to mask weed smells. I also use an air purifier.
But two options stand out above the rest. Ozium is by far the best at killing odors and sanitizing air. They make some intense aromas to choose from. Still, the original should do fine at covering up weed smoke smells and other aggressive odors.
You could also turn to the spice rack. Reach for a pan, lightly oil it and toss in a hefty dose of fresh, minced or powdered garlic. Set the pan to around medium heat and let the garlic warm up. In no time, that pot smell will be masked by waves of garlicky goodness. This is also my preferred choice for masking odors when decarbing flower. I love this approach for many reasons but beware. With a house full of garlic, your partner may expect you to have a fire meal to accompany the aroma.
How Could Someone Hate The Smell of Pot?
The rationales can range from understandable to frustrating. They include:
- Medical: Cannabis smoke has been linked to some adverse medical reactions, affecting people with lung, airway, and other issues. People suffering from various conditions, including bronchitis to cancer, may be negatively affected by the aroma or presence of smoke.
- Lingering Stigmas: A tainted view on pot remains across age groups, particularly in older and more conservative communities. These groups often still hear cannabis prohibition from leaders in law enforcement, religion and other influential sources. It’s certainly less likely that you’ll hear someone calling pot the Devil’s Lettuce or a gateway drug these days. However, many young and old still have much concern and uncertainty over the plant and its effects.
- Personal Preference: Some people don’t like the smell of weed. That’s fine, though frustratingly baffling at times to enthusiasts. It’s like how my best buddy Greg thinks chocolate and peanut butter are a revolting flavor pairing. He’s stone cold wrong with that atrocious opinion, but I still like him and his terrible palate. Kidding aside, many Americans and Canadians continue to dislike the aroma as of just a few years ago. Respect their choices, especially when living with them.
Expecting parents need to be particularly aware: Sensitivity to cannabis and other intense aromas is common during pregnancy due to a regularly heightened sense of smell.
“Just recently, my wife stopped liking the smell when she got pregnant,” said Kevin Amaya, a consumer responding via Instagram DM. Amaya, whose baby is due in August, now smokes outside and showers after.
In another DM response, Gerald Moore Jr. said his wife became sensitive to various smells during her first pregnancy, pot included. He said he now goes to his garage, deck, or shed to smoke.
Moore has taken up alternative consumption options as well. “I’ve also been smoking less and consuming in more alternative discrete ways,” including edibles, pills, vapes, tinctures, and patches.
Making It Work
Every relationship is different, but making a relationship work comes down to communication, compromise, and mutual comfort.
My girlfriend and I are only two months into living with each other, so I’m no expert. Plenty of other relationship hurdles will come up in time, and weed smoke could be a part of the conversation again. Hopefully not, but that is the reality. I’m not terribly concerned because my girlfriend is open to pot, and the conversations have always been respectful and light.
One way we’ve helped ease her further into that comfort is through education. Answering her questions and explaining aspects of weed that excite and intrigue me helped fuel conversations. Over time, she’s sampled various types of cannabis at her leisure.
In turn, I need to keep an open mind to her thoughts and feelings about the smell. I have to respect our space and not fill the place with pot odors whenever possible. With hope, by spring, when it’s warm, I’ll be able to get a good read on the neighbors and mostly smoke out on our balcony.
Other couples may run into more complicated conversations about pot and the smell. You two probably should’ve hashed these issues out before moving in, but hey, you’re here now. The topic could get sticky for some.
Be prepared for the worst possible outcomes: You may have to give up cannabis indoors or possibly altogether. For many, myself included, that’d be a deal breaker—just as pot smells could be a deal breaker for your significant other. This possible impasse could lead to your time as a couple ending. But in most cases, you won’t need to reach an “It’s me or the weed” scenario. Just talk it out and find a solution that works best for you.
With plenty of options, find what makes both of you happy. As long as you two go to bed happy each night, all should be well regarding your relationship and weed.
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Helps with pain, insomnia, and much more. Has less calories than a 12 pack. It needs to be made legal across the board — no need to reschedule, no need to do anything, but change the archaic law! Allow adults the same rights as alcohol, regulate the same way and punish misuse the same way.
Wondering why filter products like the smoke buddy aren’t an option- are they that ineffective?