People Are Now Crying Over the Smell of Hemp, Too
Folks have complained about weed warehouse odors ever since medical cannabis was first legalized in California over 20 years ago. Now, locals in Maryland are whining about the smells coming from hemp farms, too.
Published on February 18, 2020

Most weed smells a bit funky, but as any cannabis consumer will tell you, that odor is, in a sense, an acquired taste.

Now, after years of non-tokers bickering about the odors wafting from licensed pot warehouses, Baltimore County residents are now complaining about the “stench” coming from a local hemp farm, too.

In fact, some residents are so displeased by the hemp factory’s scent that they convinced a Maryland legislator, Sen. Shelly Hettleman (D-District 11), to introduce a new bill that would require all hemp farms and processing facilities to remain at least two miles away from any residential area with 10 or more homes, the Baltimore Sun reported.

“I certainly did not know that when you harvest, when hemp is being harvested, or when it gets to its harvesting time, it emits a very strong odor,” said Hettleman, who voted in 2018 to legalize hemp in Maryland. “But I do think there is a delicate balance between the rights of farmers and the rights of homeowners who live around those farms.”

The hemp farm in question is located just off of Broadway Road among the suburbs of Stevenson, Owing Mills, and Lutherville-Timonium. There’s also a country club located about a mile west of the farm. 

Some residents have complained that the smells coming from the hemp farm has invaded their homes, infused their clothes, and even caused headaches, in some cases. But not everyone believes the hemp farm poses a unique nuisance. 

“[Hemp] has a distinctive odor,” said Mark Holland, a biology professor at Salisbury University who described the plant’s aroma as “skunky.” He added, “So does chicken manure on the Eastern Shore, by the way.”

County Councilman Izzy Patoka governs the district where the hemp farm resides. He said he’s met with community members about the farm’s odors, but he told the Baltimore Sun that he did not believe that the odor was “intense.” 

“If I had a magic wand, it would be to create some level of separation,” Patoka noted, “perhaps extending a space between… where we have residents and where we have farming.”

Indoor cannabis growing operations often use special filters or ozone generators to neutralize weed’s smell. One Michigan town’s pot smells got so bad that residents pressured the Bessemer City Council to purchase a special weed-sniffing device that can pinpoint where the scents are coming from so local authorities could take action against the offenders.

As to whether the complaints against the hemp farm are coming from anti-weed haters or simply people with sensitive noses, Americans are split on either loving or loathing the scent of cannabis. A Buzzfeed survey from last year found that just over half, or 51 percent, of Americans did not like the smell of weed. 

Regardless, some fragrance companies are trying to capitalize off that skunky funk by infusing weed terpenes into perfumes and colognes. For now, it sounds like the residents of Baltimore County won’t need to invest in such olfactory novelties. 

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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