Despite medicinal and recreational laws here in California, there is still much confusion over how to transport cannabis legally. There are many uncertainties regarding driving with weed – how much can you carry? Where should you store your stash while you drive?
Then, throw in the difficulty of determining how long you need to wait after consuming cannabis to drive. Don’t worry, though. In the following paragraphs, we will explain everything you need to know to remain within the confines of the law while transporting cannabis in California.
How to legally drive with cannabis in California
Before we explain how you can avoid any trouble with the law, let’s get some basic information out of the way. To avoid breaking the law, you need to be aware of not just California state laws, but Federal laws as well.
According to California Vehicle Code 23222(b), you can legally transport cannabis as long as it is in a sealed container. Open containers of cannabis in your car can lead to legal trouble, unless you have your medical card. Medical patients are granted more leeway in this area. If you have an open container of cannabis, you must keep it in your trunk. You can also keep it in a locked glove box. Police will just want to see that you do not have access to it while driving.
You also need to be aware of California’s cannabis possession limits. You are legally allowed to possess up to 28.5 grams of flower, and 8 grams of concentrate. Exceeding these limits could lead to a misdemeanor, fines, and/or jail time.
Can I take cannabis across state lines?
You may be under the impression that because California, Nevada, Oregon, and other neighbor states all have laws legalizing cannabis, it is safe to transport it across state lines. Go ahead and squash that idea immediately, as this is considered trafficking, and could lead to serious jail time. Because federal law reigns supreme, and cannabis is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, you are putting a lot at risk by attempting this. Oregon has even enacted its own laws regarding transporting cannabis across state lines. Importing or exporting marijuana in Oregon carries charges ranging from a $260 fine up to a $125,000 fine and 5 years jail time. Other states have similar laws, making it far more reasonable to just dispose of what you have and buy more in the new state.
Driving under the influence of cannabis
Driving after using cannabis is a hotly debated topic. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, the fact still stands that driving high is illegal. California recognizes driving under the influence of cannabis the same way it does alcohol. This can be confusing, because there’s no hard and fast legal limit.
How do police test you for driving high?
To throw another wrench into the mix, there is no widely accepted method for cannabis field tests. Similar to alcohol, if a police offer suspects you of driving under the influence of marijuana they will conduct basic sobriety tests, to detect impairment. They will also examine your eyes, and likely search the car for evidence of recent use.
If they have reasonable suspicion you are driving high, they may conduct a blood or saliva test. The efficacy of such results gets called into question, as cannabis stays in the bloodstream and saliva for a while, long after your high wears off.
Punishment for driving high
Penalties for driving high vary, but in California, they are pretty strict. First time offenders can face up to 6 months in jail time, $390 fine or higher, suspension of license, 5 years probation, and even mandatory drug education classes. If you are at risk of being charged with a marijuana DUI, the best thing you can do is seek out legal representation.
If you have consumed cannabis and are unsure if it is safe for you to drive or not, you should not drive. Trust your instincts and err on the side of caution, as the risk of the penalties listed above are simply not worth waiting it out a while longer.
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