What can be done about smoking pot in hotel rooms?

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After a recent stay in a hotel that absolutely reeked of marijuana, what to do with this problem?

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Smoking pot in hotel rooms is rampant

Checking into a hotel lately has been a greeting from a list of amenities they no longer offer (due to COVID, labor shortages, inflation – fill in the blank ) and a puff of smoked marijuana floating in the air. No matter where I check in across the country, the smell pervades most of the hotels I find, from five star to select service.

While I was in one of 19 states that allow the use of marijuana for recreational/medicinal purposes, this is not a hotel with smoking rooms. In fact, not only does Virginia not allow public consumption, sharing, or offering to others, but the state also does not allow smoking in hotels of any kind.

There is no doubt that this hotel not only had a non-smoking policy, but a $250 cleaning fee for smoking in the room. If this is a profitable service charge for hotels, they could have made more money on cleaning fees than on overnight room rates. This may be part of their business model, although I doubt many hotels collect this fee often.

Why it’s hard to talk about

Sometimes it’s clear where the smell of marijuana is coming from, and sometimes it’s less obvious. Hotel staff may have the right to knock on a door and ask if there is smoke in the room or even ask guests to leave, regardless of the answer they get. But hotels and motels don’t have the staff, especially at night, to free up the office and go door to door (even when it’s obvious.)

Law enforcement will not prioritize calls for guests suspected of in-room smoking, especially in states where marijuana is legal. If they do, guests don’t have to respond, and opening a hotel room without permission requires “reasonable and articulated suspicion that a crime is in progress.”

State laws that decriminalize marijuana make it more of a problem to smoke indoors than to possess the substance, even if it’s illegal to use it outside your own home, as it is. in Virginia.

Hotels often charge $50 at check-in for incidentals on top of the cost of the stay, but that doesn’t mean there’s room on a debit or credit card to absorb the charge. Additionally, customers who dispute these charges essentially freeze the entire charge (and potentially the chamber’s revenue as well) until the charge can be upheld, which could be a bigger challenge to hold back.

What can be done about this?

First, larger signs in the room stating that a cleaning fee applies might be enough to deter some. Collecting a larger registration deduction could also help. Enforcing state laws and hotel rules, whether with in-room staff calls or police visits, could also help.

Other than that, I don’t know what can be done.


Why is this a problem? They don’t smoke in my room, do they? Weed is pungent, whether you like to absorb it or not, it’s a very strong scent. Personally, I don’t mind if someone smokes weed, takes food or drinks – that’s none of my business. Until it suits me. When my clothes and luggage smell like I’m in the room with them, that’s my problem now. On a recent trip the smell was so strong I could smell it on my clothes the next morning and I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to go through airport security smelling like weed (or attracting the attention of a police dog). I would have been mortified to show up at a business meeting smelling like weed too. Why should I do it?

What do you think? Do you find that hotel rooms stink of weed as a common problem? What should be done about this?


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