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Venice mostly mellow over pot smoke odor

Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES--They descended on free-wheeling Venice Beach with clipboards and questions in hand. Their goal: to gauge humanity's tolerance for the smell and sight of public pot smoking.

Akbar Karriem considered them ridiculous.

"Everybody be smoking," Karriem said as he sat on the boardwalk and lit a marijuana pipe. "It's part of the culture here. It's like a religion."

It wasn't quite noon Wednesday when the women from the Institute for Public Strategies arrived. As sidewalk vendors set up their tables and laid out their wares, the women politely approached bystanders at the Venice Beach skate park and began their questioning.

Do you ever notice marijuana smoke in this location? How often? Do you or someone you know suffer an allergy or sensitivity to marijuana smoke? If yes, how much does it bother them on a scale of 0 to 4?

One of the goals of the survey, said Westside Impact Coalition Director Sarah Blanch, was to learn where people encounter marijuana smoke in public, what they think of it, and if anything can be done to minimize it if it's a problem.

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"There's a pervasive view that it's not harmful," she said.

The surveys are being conducted countywide through March and the effort is funded by the county's Department of Public Health. They hope to get feedback from 10,000 business owners, residents and visitors and then return next summer with a list of recommendations on how to notify and educate the public about marijuana laws and risks.

Some people they talked to were a bit skeptical of the survey.

When Blanch interviewed a man on a Bird scooter, her questions were met with befuddlement.

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