What Is The Correct Libertarian Position on Odor Pollution?

From: S
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2019 8:01 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Are Foul Smells or Pollens a Violation of Property Rights?

Hello Professor Block,

I have a question for you that has me stumped. If a person is smoking marijuana in their own home and the smell wafts over to a neighbors home, where the neighbor can smell the marijuana, is the smoker of marijuana violating the property rights of the neighbor who smells the marijuana, assuming the neighbor does not like the smell of marijuana? Keep in mind that burning marijuana produces a very pungent smell. Also, for the sake of argument/discovery, let’s assume that there are no private covenants specifying the allowance or disallowance of smells in this particular community.

Along those same lines, what if someone grows a pollen-producing plant on their property and the pollen from the plant travels through the air to a neighbor who is allergic to the pollen? In this case though the pollen is not visible and produces no smell. Again assume no covenants or contracts between the two neighboring properties/property owners.

This is my first time emailing you and hopefully not my last. Thank you for everything you do! S

From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2019 8:04 PM
To: S
Subject: RE: Are Foul Smells or Pollens a Violation of Property Rights?

Dear S:

It depends on who was there first, the smoker or the anti smoker.

A reading for you:

Rothbard, Murray N. 1982. “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution,” Cato Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring; reprinted in Economics and the Environment: A Reconciliation, Walter E. Block , ed., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1990; http://www.mises.org/rothbard/lawproperty.pdf

Best regards,



4:20 am on June 9, 2019