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Colorado Begins Clearing Up Marijuana Open Container Laws

As we predicted, clarifying marijuana’s open container laws has become a top priority for Colorado legislators. Last week, State Senator Pat Steadman introduced a bill to make it harder for law enforcement officials to fine drivers with “improperly” sealed pots in their vehicles.

Under the current law, an open container of marijuana includes anything containing the drug that has a broken seal, contents that have been partially removed, or which shows evidence of marijuana consumption within the vehicle. However, Steadman’s bill changes the “or” to an “and.” Law enforcement must prove all three elements together for an open-container violation.

Colorado State Patrol have themselves voiced concern over enforcing the marijuana open container laws, telling the Aspen Daily News they were confused about what constituted “unsealed.” Their spokesperson did mention that they planned to ticket motorists with “bags of weed that aren’t factory sealed, including zip-locked containers.”

The open container laws are pretty straightforward if you’re coming directly from a retail marijuana shop, as they need to follow specific packaging rules, but they’re harder to apply otherwise. For example, would a Tupperware box be a sealed container if you drive some of your stash to a friend’s House? The general theory at the moment (and one we still encourage you to abide by) is to keep the drug as far away from you as possible while driving; ideally, put it in the trunk.

The proposed bill also revises the penalty structure for underage consumption and possession of marijuana. It also suggests offering an “advanced roadside impaired driving training course” as basic training for peace officers. The bill is currently under review. However, please note that these provisions still need to be in effect and may change significantly before passing. An updated guide to Colorado’s marijuana laws may always be found here.

Steadman, interestingly, is also the force behind the bill to extend “last call” at Colorado bars past the 2 a.m. curfew; that piece of legislation has moved out of local committees and will now be debated in the full House.

The ongoing debate surrounding Colorado’s marijuana open container laws has gained momentum with the introduction of State Senator Pat Steadman’s proposed bill. The legislation addresses the challenges law enforcement faces in enforcing these laws, particularly concerning the definition of “unsealed” containers. By changing the requirement from “or” to “and,” Steadman’s bill seeks to make it more difficult to find drivers with improperly sealed marijuana in their vehicles. The concerns expressed by the Colorado State Patrol about the ambiguity of the current laws highlight the need for clarity in this matter. Additionally, the bill proposes revisions to penalties for underage consumption and possession of marijuana, as well as the introduction of an advanced roadside impaired driving training course for peace officers. As the bill undergoes review, it is essential to note that these provisions still need to be in effect, and they may undergo significant changes before potential passage. The evolving landscape of marijuana legislation in Colorado reflects a broader effort to strike a balance between public safety and individual rights in the context of cannabis use.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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