Even though recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, it is still unlawful to carry the substance in a potentially usable package inside a vehicle. It is not legal to smoke while driving or have access to possibly inhaling. Similar to the alcohol law, there are specific codified conditions that cannot exist when cannabis is inside the vehicle cab. It is important for all cannabis users in the state to know this when driving or riding in a vehicle because drivers can receive a “contact high” while driving if smoke is present in the internal atmosphere.
Reduced intoxication potential
Colorado lawmakers had a specific problem when writing the open container law for cannabis when the substance was legalized. Unlike alcohol where a user must take a direct drink of the liquid, cannabis smoke can float about in a vehicle. Due to this contact inebriation possibility, this carrying restriction potentially puts open access to the substance in a similar category with DUI or drug charges for the driver if they are suspected as intoxicated.
While the open container law application in Colorado is very similar to alcohol containers in concept, there are some exemptions for passengers in certain locations and for areas in recreational vehicles. Motor homes and coaches are generally exempt from container restrictions because of low possibility for driver contact DUI, and utility vehicles with a third seat can be exempt as well in some situations. Passengers in a taxi or bus are also exempt for the most part even though a taxi passenger seat can be in the restricted area of a personal vehicle.
The penalties generated for having an open marijuana container are typically ruled as a traffic violation, and the recipient is the individual who actually possesses the container. However, any driver who is suspected of being under the influence of cannabis is still subject to a criminal charge of DUI.