Over the last decade, smoking has been banned in most Ontario business-and with good reason. Second hand cigarette smoke not only smells (to those that don’t smoke) but it can have negative health effects (too much second hand smoke has been linked to cancer). The problem with this is that laws prohibiting smoking inside businesses also prohibit ashtrays in doors.

You may be thinking that if people don’t smoke, they don’t need ashtrays, which is true; however, people smoking medical marijuana do need ashtrays. And while it’s not legal to smoke pot in a public place, there are legal medical marijuana smoking and vaping lounges located throughout Ontario. Despite being legal places to smoke, however, these businesses still can’t have ashtrays-meaning that customers are left with nowhere to flick ash from a joint.

Currently, smoking center owners such as Jon Liedtke must ask their patrons to place ash on countertops to be cleaned up. This is certainly an innovative idea, however it can be disgusting; who wants to sit at a table with ash of any kind spread out in front of them? And what business owner can take the time out of their busy schedule to clean up each time a customer leaves?

Liedtke and a group of owners are currently working with health officials to come up with a solution to the problem. Ashtrays are banned under tobacco laws, most of which don’t mention medical marijuana. While Windsor-Essex County Health Unit director of knowledge management Kristy McBeth sees the irony of the situation and vows to work to fix the issue, she is hamstrung until current laws are changed to include medical marijuana smoking facilities. Liedtke is working with the county, but states that he will take the issue all the way to the Ministry of Health if necessary.