Most often, open container laws are things we think about in terms of booze; many states have rules where you can’t publicly drink a Coors Light in the middle of the park or while walking down the street. Other states don’t care – in Vegas, you can walk into City Hall with a bottle of Cognac or a shot of whiskey. And some states have laws but don’t enforce them; technically, you’re not supposed to drink beer in the middle of a kickball game, but no one’s going to care unless that beer is Natural Light. Because that’s just sad.
We might think that open containers are limited to open containers of alcohol, but now they mean weed as well. So, what does this mean?
Clearly, driving under the influence of pot is illegal – it’s difficult to prove that it’s being done – that the THC in your system is active and not from last Friday night – but it’s still illegal. Yet what about traveling with a container of cannabis or a dime bag riding shotgun? What happens then?
Well, it depends on where you’re headed (but, not really, because most of the laws are the same).
Alaska’s Open Container Laws
Alaska is known for its confusing cannabis laws – people have been able to grow weed inside their homes since the 1970s when the government deemed it a privacy issue, a “don’t ask, don’t tell” for Purple Diesel. Still, they’ve attempted to offer more clarification regarding open container laws: a proposed bill would have defined these rules but it didn’t pass.
Local open container laws regarding alcohol expanded to include weed
Hence, it’s illegal to transport weed except in the trunk of a vehicle. Now there’s another reason not to ride a motorcycle: it’s not safe for you or your sativa.
Colorado’s Open Container Laws
Back in 2012, when Colorado legalized pot for the masses (the over 21 masses), they tried to define their open container law. However, their definition wasn’t exactly dripping with clarity: the law stated that cannabis on public roadways had to be in unbroken containers that were sealed shut, but what type of container wasn’t mentioned: baggies, Tupperware, a Caboodle?
This left the law up to interpretation with those playing it safe recommending anyone transporting weed through the Centennial State do so – like Alaska – in the trunks of their cars. Of course, this isn’t something people in the Mile High City and adjoining areas really do. For one thing, cops aren’t going to subject a Ford Focus to a stop and frisk just to see if cannabis is being carried in the glove compartment.
People caught with a blunt in the backseat or dope on the dash are subject to a small fine – 50 dollars (plus a seven dollar surcharge).
This is different than driving while actually impaired. In Colorado, officers can arrest drivers based on their observations and these observations have a tendency to stand up in court. In other words, don’t eat Doritos behind the wheel – not even when you’re stone cold sober. You’ll only draw unwanted attention to yourself.
Washington State’s Open Container Laws
In 2015, Washington State passed an open container law: House Bill 1276. According to Newsweek, this bill essentially updated the preexisting alcohol-based open container law and stipulated that marijuana must be kept either in the trunk of the car or in a part of the passenger cabin “not normally occupied or directly accessible” by anyone in the vehicle. Regardless of where it’s stored, it must be in an unopened container.
If caught, the fine is reported to be around 136 dollars, making pot even more expensive than usual.
Oregon’s Open Container Laws
Per Oregon’s Pot Guide, Measure 91 is very strict about transporting marijuana across state lines (even if you’re going from one recreational state to the next).
If you’re driving in state, on the other hand, the area is a shade of gray
Unlike other states, Oregon doesn’t offer much about open container laws specifically. If you’re traveling from Portland to Bend – for instance – you’re allowed to transport marijuana as long as you’re within the legal possession limits and you have the marijuana stored away from the driver. It also needs to be in a child-proof container.
As mentioned above, the police won’t put forth much effort to pull you over just to make sure you haven’t buckled your Mary Jane into the passenger seat (safety first!); most law enforcement officials focus on more pressing matters. But that doesn’t mean they can’t. The marijuana container laws allow authorities to pull you over based on “reasonable suspicion,” a controversial term that – for some – attests to a policeman’s experience and knowledge and – for others – is merely a “cop out” for racial and other types of profiling as well as hitting quotas.
Even so, zealous cops can make it happen if they want. They can sit outside of dispensaries and pull people over as they exit the parking lots or they can stop random people in recreational and medical states and hope they get lucky. This is something to keep in mind if you drive with dope often – put your junk in the trunk and save yourself a fine in the process.