Oregon Court: Marijuana Smoke Is No Rotten Eggs

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A man smokes marijuana during a rally against drug trafficking and in favor for the legalization of self-cultivation of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes in Santiago, June 7. Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Some disgruntled people in Oregon brought a neighborhood complaint to the Court of Appeals: that the smell of marijuana emanating from nearby homes was "physically offensive." But the court ruled that while odors such as rotten eggs and raw sewage are "objectively unpleasant," grass doesn't necessarily smell like ass.

In its ruling Wednesday, the three judge-panel wrote: "We are not prepared to declare that the odor of marijuana smoke is equivalent to the odor of garbage. Indeed, some people undoubtedly find the scent pleasing." They continued: "[A]n odor that is very intense and persistent could reasonably be regarded as offensive even if it ordinarily might be considered pleasant—perfume, for example, or pungent spices."

Oregon Live notes that following the decision, the appeals court threw out the second-degree criminal mischief convictions of a man who had his home searched three years ago on the grounds that it smelled like dope. In 2012, Jared William Lang was visited by a police officer in Philomath, Oregon after both of his next-door neighbors called and reported that his place reeked of pot several times a week. The officer had requested a warrant to search the unit, claiming that Lang may have created a "physically offensive smell," citing a possible second-degree disorderly conduct violation.

While searching Lang's apartment, police found that he had paraphernalia for an illegal something else--graffiti. After the search, Lang was slapped with three counts of misdemeanor second-degree criminal mischief for the vandalism. He appealed, saying the warrant had been, well, unwarranted.

Three years later, the appeals court has found that it couldn't determine whether the smell of weed was offensive, calling the odor "subjective" and dependent on the "intensity, duration or frequency" of the smokers' habits.

The decision means that police won't be able to hassle weed smokers toking up in their own homes because of smell. Stoners in non-legalized states are likely green with envy.