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Wisconsin Man Admits to Smoking His Mother’s Ashes


Recent news out of Wisconsin has raised the question again: Is it legal to smoke human cremains? The internet is full of stories, some wholly or partially made up, about smoking or sniffing their loved one’s ashes.

Last week, twenty-six-year-old Austin Schroeder and his girlfriend were accused of doing just that, in addition to Ecstasy use and possession of drug paraphernalia, and selling marijuana to police informants. They are not being charged with ‘abuse of a corpse;’ only various drug charges.

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

According to the legal website,, Wisconsin does not include smoking or sniffing ashes in their state statutes that regulate the handling of cremains, expecting the living to exercise common sense when handling their loved one’s ashes. Some states have laws against sniffing or smoking cremains, but Wisconsin isn’t one of them.

Some people who have admitted to sniffing their loved one’s ashes have done so because of an accidental spillage, and they said they felt it wasn’t respectful to just brush them onto the floor or into the garbage, such as Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards. In Mr. Schroeder’s case, it’s unclear how his use of Ecstasy may or may not have impaired the cognitive function of his brain’s hippocampus, and then led him to the decision to smoke his mother’s ashes.

The ethical questions involved with such a possibility are widely discussed on several open-to-the-public legal message boards, some of which are maintained by funeral homes, for those who want to explore the ethical debate further.

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