Marijuana open container bill would make it harder to prove a violation

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Ever since Colorado's medical marijuana boom, law enforcers have been worried about people driving stoned -- and these concerns likely helped motivate strict open-container laws related to marijuana.

But now, following the launch of recreational pot sales, one of Colorado's most powerful legislators has introduced a bill that would make it more difficult to prove an open-container violation -- and a marijuana attorney sees the move as a positive one.

The lawmaker in question is Senator Pat Steadman, whose major accomplishments include shepherding Colorado's civil unions law to passage. He's also the sponsor of Senate Bill 14-129, described on its title page as "A Bill for an Act Concerning Changes to Criminal Provisions Related to Marijuana."

We've included the entire document below, but its summary focuses on three sections. The first "adds consumption and possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia to the crime of underage possession or consumption of alcohol" and tweaks the penalty structure. The second, for its part, encourages the Peace Officers Standards and Training board to "offer an advanced roadside impaired driving training course...as an elective to basic field sobriety training recertification."

And the third? According to SB-14-129, "The bill changes the open marijuana container crime to require that prosecution prove that the container has a broken seal, that the contents were partially removed, and that there is evidence that marijuana was consumed in the vehicle." The passage notes that "current law only requires proof of one of those three elements."

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Warren Edson.
Attorney and marijuana advocate Warren Edson highlights the significance of this last potential alteration. He calls the regulations in place now "a very broad interpretation of open container. It appears to suggest that short of keeping it in your trunk, or in a lock box in the back of your vehicle, you could fairly easily be charged with open container."

Indeed, police representatives "have been recommending that you keep it in your trunk under the broader definition of open container we've been living under for the past six months or so," Edson continues. "Just having a container that wasn't sealed was enough to get you charged with open container," even if there was no evidence any of the product itself was missing, let alone that it had been consumed in the car.

In Edson's view, Steadman's bill needn't be seen as weakening other statutes related to vehicles and pot. "We're not talking reckless driving or DUI," he stresses. "We're only talking about open container."

At the same time, though, he's cognizant of political realities. Bills routinely undergo changes as they navigate the legislative process, and there's no guarantee the open-container language will survive. But as written, he sees it as "nice protection for folks driving home from a store with their medical marijuana or recreational marijuana."

Here's the bill.

Senate Bill 14-129

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa December 2013: "Denver pot-smoking tickets 19 times higher in 2013 than in 2012."

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27 comments
Nate Ulin
Nate Ulin

So here it is, I smoke weed on occasion. All these pot rules n shit have and will have no bearing on me. I got it good and cheap when it was illegal and no one even spoke it's name and I will find it now. Who cares. The easier to get the better I guess. I know there is more to it like tax advantages etc but again I don't care.

Rev. B Baker
Rev. B Baker

looks nice (the pork that is) at the end of a shitty bill LOL

Rev. B Baker
Rev. B Baker

my next injunction if the citizens who toke in Colorado dont like it LOL

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Why would Stoners need unsealed pot in the passenger compartment of their car if they weren't going to use it?


HipTip -- put it in the FUCKING TRUNK, morons.


Hope that helps.



Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

It's kinda hard to "break the seal" on a container that never had a seal in the first place--as with home-grown herb that's possessed and consumed by the grower or anyone to whom he chooses to give it.

Then there's the stuff that's been baked into something by the rightful owner, etc., etc.

Do we need to bring up the fact that open container laws are complete bullshit to begin with? There's no direct correlation between an open container and driving under the influence.

This brings up another interesting issue: how many people have been hassled for having an "open container" of a substance other than pot or alcohol which is known to impair drivers??? If not, why the hard-on for pot and alcohol only? Better start getting tough on Nyquil and getting tough on Prozac.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 "require that prosecution prove that the container has a broken seal, that the contents were partially removed, and that there is evidence that marijuana was consumed in the vehicle."


So why not change the Alcohol DUI law to reflect the same?


Those lying shitbags who wrote A64 promoted that putrid turd as regulating pot LIKE ALCOHOL ... may they reap what they have sown!


Monkey
Monkey

A broken seal? Whats that? I assume it's for weed purchased from a store, that seals their weed, right? 

What if you're like me, and don't buy commercial weed, or sealed containers? I guess in our case, the seal has never been broken, because there was no seal to begin with, so we're all good?

I have had many friends pulled over with un-sealed weed, and nothing happened to them. One even had 2 plants in the backseat, obviously un-sealed, and the officer paid no attention after seeing it was only 2.

Should commercial weed customers start bringing their own baggie with them to the store? Discard their sealed container after leaving, and pretend the weed came from a private source instead of commercial if police should ask?

I don't really get it. Maybe someone who paid attention to this "open container law" can help me out. I don't buy weed, but I've never driven a car without un-sealed weed before. Is this really only about store bought weed, or is everyone driving without a seal guilty of an "open container"?  

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Interesting post, Nate. We're going to highlight it as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @Nate Ulin "All these pot rules n shit have and will have no bearing on me"


Until you get BUSTED for violating them.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Carrie-Lynn Colores  ... no responsible pot user does. 


Only Petulant Pot Punks are whining and crying that they can't carry their precious pot with them inside the passenger compartment -- where they can't legally use it anyway.


Boo hoo hoo.



michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Thanks for weighing in, Rev. Much appreciated.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident  "It's kinda hard to "break the seal" on a container that never had a seal in the first place--as with home-grown herb that's possessed and consumed by the grower or anyone to whom he chooses to give it."


Too bad the IGNORANT FUCKTARDS who wrote and promoted that putrid turd A64 didn't think of that before they started their public scampaign purporting to regulate pot LIKE alcohol ... while simultaneously writing PROHIBITIONS, RESTRICTIONS and MASSIVE TAXES into A64 that are nothing like alcohol.


Epic AUTO FIST up the ASS of the idiots, fools and tools who supported and voted for that worthless turd A64 !!



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey  ... what part of "LIKE ALCOHOL" don't you comprehend?



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@prairieprankster


ProTips: 


1) buy a real car


2) keep your weed inside a sealed container, same as required of ALCOHOL.




JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @Cognitive_DissidentIt works for the cartel, as they are the only ones providing official "sealed containers". I doubt the POS A64 allows me to create my own sealed containers.



LibTardLogic
LibTardLogic

@DonkeyHotay @Monkey  whenever the state complies with that, let me know. right now, they are breaking the law because they are treating pot NOTHING like alcohol at all......

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @Monkey  

How about the part where there are no coffee houses where pot is consumed legally? How about the part where advertisements are banned in publications with liquor ads? Maybe the part where alcohol is served in all sorts of public venues, but consuming it in a bathroom stall can get you into trouble? How about the part where pot is taxed about 100 times as much as beer? 

Those are pretty fucking hard to understand, if we're talking about being consistent.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@LibTardLogic <== another ignorant fuckwit who didn't even read, much less comprehend, what that putrid turd A64 proposed.


Enjoy your shit sandwich, sucker, you voted for it!


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident  ... so you admit that the LYING LIARS who wrote and promoted that festering piece of shit A64 were grossly incompetent and criminally negligent in their FRAUDULENT scampaign which falsely claimed pot would be regulated LIKE alcohol, eh?




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