Cannabis has been legal recreationally in California for nearly a year now. However, like with alcohol, it is completely illegal to drive while high. However, it is difficult for prosecutors and police to determine how long ago a person smoked without direct evidence that cannabis was smoked recently. Police can use evidence such as seeing the suspect smoke or smelling the cannabis. They can also use open containers of cannabis and nearby paraphernalia to try and establish a direct link to consumption. If you’re going to be traveling with cannabis, you’ll need to ensure that the police have no reason to arrest you for driving while high.
First, this might sound like one of those “duh” statements, but don’t smoke in your car while driving. Also, try not to get into your car immediately after smoking without freshening up with some perfume, mouthwash, or hand sanitizer.
If you must travel with your cannabis, you have to consider how it is stored. If you’re just leaving the dispensary, keep it in the original packaging and sealed. If you’re taking previously purchased and opened cannabis from one place to another, keep it in a place where it’s obvious it’s out of reach of the driver and the passengers. This means in the trunk or in a similarly locked compartment of your car.
In consideration of where you may be driving, keep in mind that while going on short trips within the same state may be fine. However, carrying cannabis over state lines, even if it is legal in one state, is a federal offense.
If you are pulled over for a traffic violation, it is completely up to you whether or not to volunteer information about the cannabis you are carrying. It is a sad reality that people of color are often unfairly targeted for arrest and prosecution of drug offenses, so volunteering the information may not work to your favor, even in states where it is legal.
As long as you keep your cool and haven’t been smoking in your car and you do not appear to be impaired, you should be fine. Police in California are being increasingly trained to spot signs of marijuana intoxication, so don’t tempt fate by driving while high.