Living next to a grow

An inconsiderate neighbor causes a stink

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

My neighbor is growing indoors now in an unsealed garage. He has a state license, not sure rec or med. Last season when he moved in, he had about 30-40 pots outdoors. Outdoors is not allowed in my city. At harvest time, it stunk up the place. When I brought it to his attention, “Oh you can smell it?” he says. “Well, I can grow 99 plants!” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the flower, but I don’t think his commercial production is appropriate in a residential neighborhood. His attitude of “Freedom!” or perception of “I have a license and I can do what I want with weed” is a problem. It’s not all weed and roses for everyone. Any thoughts?


Yeah. It’s a tough spot. Your neighbor is breaking the first rules of gray-market activity, which is to be low-key and keep your karma clean. Growing large amounts of weed in a residential area requires subtlety and discretion and your neighbor seems to possess neither.

As to his “I can grow 99 plants!” boast, he is almost correct. He may be under the false assumption that since he paid extra for his letter of recommendation from the medical cannabis doctor, he can do what he wants with impunity.

However, a letter from the doctor only allows him an “affirmative defense” if he were to be arrested, meaning that he would have to prove (in court, under oath) that he actually needed pounds and pounds of weed for his medical condition. And just because he has a letter that says he can grow 99 plants, it doesn’t mean he can ignore local rules and regulations. The odds are not in his favor.

As to the smell of weed during harvest time, I am of the opinion that folks should just put up with it. It’s only gonna smell like weed for a few weeks. However, I really like the smell of weed (it smells like victory and activism), but I understand that most folks don’t share my feelings.

So what to do? You could call the state Bureau of Cannabis Control and complain. People with large obnoxious grows get busted all the time, mostly because their neighbors get fed up with all the carelessness and braggadocio. You could call county services and they would probably show up and shut him down. The process is anonymous, but no one likes a snitch. You are truly in a tough spot.

There may be another option. Governor Gavin Newsom just announced that he is sending National Guard soldiers into Northern Cali to crack down on illegal grows. Maybe you could strike up a conversation and casually mention to your neighbor that the governor is cracking down on unpermitted grows and that he should double check to make sure he is operating legally. Perhaps you could slip a copy of the rules and regulations in your city under his door. Or maybe you could tell his mom that her son is being an inconsiderate jerk. Good luck.