As cannabis legalization becomes more commonplace, legal states find themselves confronted with the conundrum of laws pertaining to driving with open weed containers. These laws are often vague and open to interpretation, caught up in a perplexing gray area far from the concrete guidelines that shape open container laws for alcohol. The laws addressing open weed containers vary slightly among the legal states. Despite minor differences, the general lack of clarity permeates these laws across the board leaving both law enforcement officers and motorists confused.
Colorado’s Open Container Law Mimicked by Oregon
Colorado’s stance on open weed containers attempts to first establish what the law constitutes as an open container. The law, known as SB-283
, explains that open marijuana containers are receptacles for cannabis that show evidence of broken seals or partially removed contents. Colorado’s open container laws also extend to any evidence that weed has been smoked or consumed in any way within the vehicle. While these laws are somewhat straightforward when compared to other legal states, they allow for a few notable exceptions. While passengers of automobiles are prohibited from smoking marijuana, those sitting in the back of a privately rented car such as a limousine, can smoke without fear of the usual passenger laws applying to open weed containers. Likewise, open containers stored in the living quarter’s portion of an RV is acceptable by Colorado law. Oregon’s open container laws for comparison lack definition, by comparison, but are believed to heavily mirror those of Colorado.
The Definition of Weed Containers in Washington
In late September of 2015, Washington’s laws for open weed containers went into effect, though they left both sides of the law scratching their collective heads. House Bill 1276
simply defines an open container as a receptacle or package with a broken seal. This language has caused understandable controversy as the choice of the term “seal” implies that the weed containers and packaging in question must come from approved dispensaries. Sandwich bags can be resealed so we can assume that’s not the kind of seal the state of Washington is referencing. Those partaking in the joys of weed, in a state where it’s perfectly legal, thus find themselves in a somewhat odd situation. If they’ve just hit up the dispensary, they can pop their purchase in the glove box (assuming they haven’t already violated the law by sampling a bit in the parking lot) and drive home without fear of violation. However, if they’ve just emerged from their friend’s apartment with a Ziploc bag full of OG Kush, they’d better be tossing it into the trunk for the voyage home.
The Future of Open Weed Containers Law in California
California is poised to make its position on open weed containers known through 2016’s proposed Adult Use of Marijuana Act
(AUMA), popularly referred to as the Sean Parker Initiative. While Section 6 of the AUMA classifies marijuana packaging as “any container or receptacle used for holding marijuana or marijuana products”, other sections specifically spell out specifics on how cannabis is to be properly packaged right down to the warning labels. Laws designed to exclude non-dispensary weed from the language are less controversial in states like California that have yet to legalize recreational marijuana.
It’s obvious that laws preventing open weed containers in automobiles were designed to dissuade smoking or consuming edibles while driving. Without a convincing marijuana breathalyzer on the horizon, these vague open container laws for cannabis will more than likely remain the norm in legal states. Therefore, regardless of how the laws are interpreted, it seems the safest way to travel in your car with your weed is to simply pop it in the trunk as opposed to the glove compartment. If your car lacks a trunk, you can also toss the goods behind the last upright seat.
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