Longmont couple: Secondhand pot smoke is endangering baby

9:23 PM, Oct 22, 2013   |    comments
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LONGMONT - McKell and Tyler Barlow say their 2-month-old daughter is being exposed to marijuana smoke from a neighboring apartment almost daily.

The Barlows say the pot smoke is coming into their apartment through a vent from a neighboring unit.

They've tried calling their landlord, the police and even child-protective services.

Because smoking pot at home is legal under Colorado law, they say nobody can help.

That's why the Barlow family sent a newstip to 9NEWS.

"I can't take my 2-month-old daughter into the apartment because it smells like marijuana," McKell said.

She says the smoke comes in through a bathroom vent, forcing McKell and her daughter Lily to spend most of their time outside the apartment.

"I don't want my daughter ingesting that," McKell said.

Tyler says the smell is often unbearable, which means he often comes home to an empty house.

"An empty house that smells horrible," Tyler said. "Kinda hits you like the wind. Like a ton of bricks."

Research is limited, but many doctors believe the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke are similar to secondhand tobacco smoke.

9Health Reporter Dr. John Torres says the major risk for infants like Lily is lung damage.

"Bottom line when it comes to secondhand pot smoke is the same message we give for cigarette smoke: Don't do it around children," Torres said. "Children with developing lungs, make sure you stay away from them [so] that the smoke doesn't get near them because it could cause problems."

Torres says short-term problems include asthma, trouble breathing and pneumonia and long-term problems could include increased risk of cancer.

There is also some research that exposure to tetrahydrocannabinol - the main mind-altering chemical in marijuana - may affect brain development.

Torres does not feel the type of exposure that Lily is encountering would put her at a significant risk for brain damage.

Attorney Jessica Peck specializes in marijuana law and says the Barlows have a solid argument that Lily's health is in danger.

"I would encourage that tenant who is being impacted to try and get out of that lease," Peck said.

Peck says tenants need to ask questions before signing a lease.

"Make sure that the word 'marijuana' appears in the language. If there is a smoke-free policy, you want to make sure that it is not just cigarettes but is also marijuana," Peck said.

The Barlows are hoping to break their lease so that Lily will finally have a place to play.

"So that we can move and find somewhere safe for her to grow up," McKell said. "She's everything to me."

9NEWS called the Wildwood Apartment Homes regional corporate office, ConAm Management Corporation in Greenwood Village, and a manager said they are looking into the situation.

9NEWS learned about this story through a news tip. If you have a story you think we should know about it, you can e-mail us at newstips@9news.com.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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