Dealing with dank’s stank

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Hi, Ngaio. Can you ask the people who smoke pot regularly to take a shower or hang an air freshener around their neck? One of the downsides of the changing attitudes about pot is having to smell it daily, regardless of whether you want to or not. It may be the smell of freedom for some but it’s really not making any friends among those who are on the fence about weed’s acceptance. I also think it hurts the credibility of the entire weed scene. Prohibition wasn’t ended by people who reeked of booze.


High yourself! I have been wrestling with this issue for a while. Pot is a stinky drug. A wonderful, fantastic, stinky, stinky drug. I personally enjoy the smell of weed, but I may be an outlier. Many pot smokers don’t really notice the smell. I get the side-eye from random people all the time, and not just when I walk into the coffee shop all fresh roasted from a nice session. Just having some good weed in your pocket will stink up a room. It usually takes me a minute to realize why people are smirking, and it often leads to a conversation about marijuana, so I generally don’t mind, unless I am in line at the food truck when the cops walk up.

I get what you are saying, although I am not sure I have a solution for you. Maybe the smell of marijuana is just one of the petty annoyances of big-city living, along with the occasional aroma of tobacco smoke, random garbage cans and dog shit. You are right that some people could be better at being more aware of their personal scent, but I would rather smell like weed than Axe body spray. Maybe you could start a business that sells a weed-odor neutralizer.

I have a question for you: Looking at your email, you imply that the smell of marijuana is a reason to be “on the fence” about weed acceptance. Really? I think we can all agree that marijuana laws should be reformed. And to your comment, “Prohibition wasn’t ended by people who reeked of booze.” I disagree. I am fairly sure that the people who ended alcohol prohibition, a.k.a. the United States legislature, reek way more of booze than they reek of weed. Congress would probably do a better job if they smoked more weed and drank less booze, but I digress. Anyway, sorry you have to smell weed every once in a while.

High, Ngaio, I am debating leaving my career working with autistic teens to work in the cannabis industry. Thoughts? Am I jumping on the wagon?

—A Man Called Quest

First of all, thank you for working with autistic teens. I would say it’s not too late but don’t just jump in. Have a plan. Find a niche. And try not to reek of weed when you show up to work.