Car dealers, cleaners seeing unforeseen side effect of legalized marijuana: the lingering smell

Although marijuana may be legal now in Michigan, it's still not legal to smoke and drive. But take it from the experience of car dealers and car cleaners - plenty of people still are. 

"It's way more prevalent of an issue with smells coming back in our vehicles smelling like weed," says Thad Szott, co-owner of Szott M-59 Toyota in Waterford. For Thad and his crew, they're having a hard time cleaning their rentals and loaners.

"It's a little more oily-based so that's one of the reasons it's a little harder to get out," Thad says. He says the smell is harder to remove than cigarette smell. 

He says his detailing crew uses professional odor eliminators, or smoke bombs, to get rid of the stench but it isn't easy. Or cheap. 

"Our detailers that we pay hourly have to spend time with the vehicle, well over an hour process by the time it's start to finish," he says. 

In one instance, he says his crew had to use three of the smoke bombs to get the smell out and had to charge the driver $300. "And really still didn't get the whole smell out of it."

And while the contract spells out that smoking of any kind isn't allowed in the vehicles, some customers aren't listening. So the price to clean it is going up - and the price of the car is going down. 

"The depreciation to the vehicle is real. I mean that's 5 to 10% differently when you can't get the smell out on a used car lot."

And for general manager Anthony Bartolotta and his cleaning crew at Imperial Car Wash and Detailing just down the road, he says he and his crew notice the drug all the time. 

"Soon as they come inside, they open their doors it's like a Cheech and Chong movie," Anthony says. "I don't know what it is. Seeing the soap, the wax coming on the car but they always wanna smoke a joint."

Bartolotta says the answer he gets now: "but it's legal."

"I tell him yeah it's legal but it's not legal to drive and smoke," he says. 

So unless you want to pay up or possibly get cuffed, you might want to toke up at home.