News 5 Investigates

Jun 17, 2014 8:45 PM by Eric Ross

News 5 Investigates: Marijuana smell may force some neighbors to move

Imagine living next door to a marijuana grow operation and then finding out your job is in jeopardy because of where you live.

A Colorado Springs pilot says he's been told by his employer that he's at risk for testing positive for pot during drug screenings.

Andrew Hopwood lives in a condo near North Union Blvd. and Briargate Blvd. on the northeast side of Colorado Springs. Since its legalization, there's no laws banning marijuana from being grown and consumed inside homes and condos. While the rental industry has the authority to ban pot, some neighbors are hoping the housing industry will be regulated next.

"It (the smell) gets so bad to the point to where you walk in you get dizzy," Hopwood said. "It stains your clothes. I'll pick up a tissue from the tissue box and the tissue absorbs the smell so bad I'm putting marijuana tissue in my face."

Hopwood moved into the complex in March. At the time, there was no pot odor. It wasn't until recently that he says the intoxicating smell made its way into his condo one floor above the grow operation.

He's tried quick fixes to mask the smell, using air fresheners and purifier. Hopwood says it's really only a band-aid solution and fears the fumes could impact his work performance, or ultimately, get him terminated.

"I'm at risk for losing my job if I test positive during a random drug test," he said. "As pilots, we get tested all the time."

Police have been called on his neighbor and according to the police report obtained by News 5, the man would "only speak through the screen door" and "was not cooperative" with authorities.

According to police, the neighbor growing pot and creating a disturbance said "it was his right to make noise and smoke marijuana" before "slamming the door in the officers face".

Because marijuana is legal, there is nothing law enforcement was able to do beyond take a report.

You can read the report here:

CSPD Report.pdf

The homeowner at the center of this controversy wasn't too happy to see our news cameras either and refused to answer our questions when we approached him Tuesday morning. The man made a rude gesture before driving off.

"I have to (possibly) relocate with my own money to a new place and that's time and money out my pocket," Hopwood said.

While law enforcement agencies will not get involved with marijuana calls, homeowners associations do have the ability to regulate marijuana consumption.

According to Hopwood, his complex is under an HOA, but it's unclear whether they have any restrictions on pot.

We have calls into the HOA for comment and we'll let you know when we hear back from them.

Any homeowner caught violating HOA laws is subject to fines and a civil court case.

Since the 2014 legislative session has ended, addressing concerns over pot regulations will not be formally discussed until next year.

Studies have been done to test the "potency" and "risk" of inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke. News 5 is in the process of researching the topic to determine credible studies pertaining to this subject matter and will likely do a follow-up story in the near future. 

Below is the statement News 5 received from the Homeowners Association in regards to this story: 

"Central Colorado Management was hired by the Board of the Montclair Condominium Owners Association to manage the Association. The Association has Bylaws and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions which govern the operation of Association and actions of its twenty four owners. The Board has directed CCM to do a blower door test to identify any air leaks in each of the two units. The Board is also seeking legal advice on marijuana smoke as a nuisance under the covenants and how to apply the covenants. The marijuana issue may require an amendment to the governing documents of the Association as there is no provision for growing or consuming marijuana." -Eric Steiner 



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