(Associated Press file)

You're a condo manager, and now you have residents complaining about odors of legal marijuana wafting down the hallways. What to do?

Legal pot and condominium living are adding an interesting wrinkle to Colorado's groundbreaking law.

A condo building's authority to set its own regulations has the potential to butt squarely against the new constitutional right to possess and consume marijuana in Colorado.

If push comes to shove, homeowners associations could take a neo-prohibitionist stance and ban pot, said HOA legal analyst Jerry Orten.

But would they? Not likely.

"It's pretty well established that HOAs can be more restrictive than local laws," said Orten, a Denver lawyer. "But I don't think many will be interested in regulating marijuana."

Orten estimates that 2 percent to 5 percent of Colorado condos prohibit smoking. Those bans, created largely for tobacco, could also apply to marijuana.

The issue now confronts the majority of residential complexes without smoking bans. The topic attracted a standing-room crowd Thursday at a convention of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Community Associations Institute.

Analysts say it's clear that Amendment 64 and Colorado's Indoor Clean Air Act prohibit smoking marijuana in public areas such as a condo's lobby, clubhouse and pool.

Interpretations are hazier when it comes to smoking pot in a resident's unit — especially if fumes escape into common areas.

Panelists said HOAs have tools to deal with odors from marijuana, short of banning it.

For example, many associations have bylaws allowing them to warn and penalize residents who produce bad smells, be they from smoking tobacco or pot, or even from malodorous cooking.

At the Penn Square condominiums in Denver's Capitol Hill, occasional complaints about marijuana odors have arisen since, and before, medical cannabis was legalized in 2001.

Manager Michael Milburn said the complaints are handled in the same manner as tobacco gripes — asking residents to install door thresholds to prevent smoke from escaping into hallways.

He said the volume of complaints — just a handful a year — has not risen since passage of Colorado's legal pot law in November.

But convention panelists Thursday said the law's provision allowing people to grow up to six marijuana plants adds a complicating factor. Cultivating cannabis can produce odors even more powerful than smoking it.

Responsible growers will install fans and filters to mitigate odors, panelists said.

Ideally, common sense and courtesy will fend off regulations and litigation, said Christian Sederberg, a lawyer specializing in marijuana.

"HOAs want to avoid these kinds of things," he said. "They can't afford it. They don't want all their dues going to attorneys' fees."

Steve Raabe: 303-954-1948, sraabe@ denverpost.com or twitter.com/steveraabedp