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Massachusetts May Outlaw Driving with an Open Container of Cannabis

Should it be illegal to drive with an open container of pot?

by High Times | Updated on 1.4.19

Massachusetts’ Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving issued a report on Wednesday recommending that those who refuse roadside drug tests should have their license suspended for six months– the same punishment for drivers who turn down breathalyzer tests. The report will be delivered to the Massachusetts legislature to be considered in the state’s ongoing law-making process.

The commission was established by Massachusetts’ recently passed cannabis laws, which resulted in $2 million in sales within less than a week of operation. The group’s members are attorneys, law enforcement officials, human rights advocates, and other professionals associated with cannabis policy. Their main tasks are to examine drug test techniques, drivers’ rights, determine court-admissible evidence, testing costs, police burden, and other issues.

Another recommendation put forward by the commission was an “open container” law similar to that of alcohol. It would foist a $500 fine on anyone caught driving with an unsealed cannabis product container in the car. “You give out a few $500 tickets, I’m not saying people won’t do weed, but they won’t do it in a car,” said John Scheft, an attorney member of the commission.

The commission unanimously approved the suggestion, though there were some questions about how it would be carried out. Jennifer Queally, Massachusetts’ undersecretary for law enforcement, pointed out that the issue goes beyond smoking while driving.

“We’ve all seen people smoking a joint at the red light next to us, and clearly that’s open container,” she said. “But then the question gets what about the edibles, what about some of the oils?”

Other members of the commission suggested that an open bag of marijuana could well be left over from weeks before.

Additional recommendations included in the commission’s report highlighted streamlining and standardizing the drug test warrant process, training police officers to identify drivers under the influence of cannabis, and the promotion of more drug recognition experts; who, currently, are not allowed to testify as court witnesses. The commission suggested changing that law and providing a certification process to help police accurately identify drug impairment among drivers. The group was still undecided on whether salvia tests should be court-admissible evidence.

Issues of driving while under the influence of cannabis has long presented a problem for lawmakers. The inexactitude of pinpointing when cannabis was consumed via saliva, blood, and urine tests has made for shaky legal reckonings.

Massachusetts isn’t the only place figuring out how to navigate the relationship between cannabis consumption and driving. Months after its sweeping federal-level legalization, Canada changed its laws to allow police officers to test drivers for impairment at any lawful traffic stop. This is a change from previous policy, which said that officers had to have probable cause to require such a test.

The change comes after many Canadian police officials failed to note many overall changes in driver behavior after federal legislation. In fact, while Toronto seemed to be tracking slightly higher on drug-impaired car accidents, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and Quebec were all seeing lower numbers in the year that legalization took place.

The post Massachusetts May Outlaw Driving with an Open Container of Cannabis appeared first on High Times.

High Times

Written by High Times

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(25)
  • ConservativeGuy
    01/05/2019
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    “We’ve all seen people smoking a joint at the red light next to us, and clearly that’s open container,” she said. “But then the question gets what about the edibles, what about some of the oils?” I don't think I have seen that.

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  • Bob
    Voted No
    01/05/2019
    ···

    If you're not actively endangering somebody, there is no reason to legislate victimless behavior.

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  • Abbi
    Voted Maybe
    01/04/2019
    ···

    Well yeah, despite the health benefits it may affect your driving. We haven’t really been able to study the effects on driving. Probably best to be cautious.

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  • Chris1
    Voted Yes
    01/04/2019
    ···

    Driving under the influence of marijuana should be handled the same way a DUI is.

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  • Tooluser1
    Voted No
    01/04/2019
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    Define "open container". This *isn't* a grocery store item with tamper proof packaging, it's generally HOME GROWN... This measure is an end run around marijuana legalization by making it illegal to transport in a car.

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  • B.R.
    01/04/2019
    ···

    I reiterate... I think legalizing social pot smoking is asking for trouble. So yes I do believe that driving under the influence of pot should be handled in the same fashion as drinking and driving.

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  • BacktotheRight
    Voted Yes
    01/04/2019
    ···

    Just like alcohol, open container or using while driving then you’re driving with or under he influence and should be arrested.

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  • Leon
    Voted No
    01/04/2019
    ···

    No just like it shouldn’t be with alcohol. If they’re impaired take action. Otherwise move along.

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  • ProudRepublicanWomen
    Voted Yes
    01/04/2019
    ···

    Recreational Marijuana being legally at all is bad enough I think it is an unsmart decision. However in the places where it is legal we all know that it impairs people just like alcohol. we all knew that people will try to smoke it while driving and drive high. Just like people do and have with alcohol. So yes there need to be the same laws and guidelines for marijuana as there is for alcohol

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  • Bmarkis
    Voted Yes
    01/04/2019
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    Yes, let's treat it like alcohol when it comes to operating a motor vehicle. The only thing I see issue with is the drug testing because how are they testing? As it is right now there is only a test to see if you have consumed, not how recently, unlike alcohol.

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  • NoHedges
    Voted Yes
    01/04/2019
    ···

    It is in Colorado. This is a decision for the states until Federal Law catches up.

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  • Billy
    Voted Yes
    last Tuesday
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    You can’t drive under the influence of alcohol, why should you be able to drive while high?? “Dude, but it like makes you safer cause you drive slower and are paranoid” sooooo, you create road congestion and look sketchy? My kids can see your billowing cloud of obnoxious fumes as you open a window? No thanks.

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  • George
    Voted Yes
    01/04/2019
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    Talk to police officers about this issue. They will tell you they already have enough to deal with when it comes to drivers such as alcohol. They do not need another drug impairing drivers. On the other hand legalize marijuana for recreational use. If people want to sit around doing nothing all day long the competition will be that much easier for my children!

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  • Joel
    Voted No
    01/07/2019
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    Never seen a “closed container” of pot?

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  • OliverDaRion
    Voted Yes
    01/07/2019
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    They should only have it at home.

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  • Dori
    Voted Yes
    01/06/2019
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    Just the same as any prescribed narcotic or alcohol

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  • Christina
    Voted No
    01/06/2019
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    Should you by be allowed to drive with Xanax in your car? This is the same thing in many situations. If the driver isn’t impaired, move along.

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  • Maribeth
    Voted Yes
    01/05/2019
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    No open bottles of alcohol, no open containers of weed.

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  • Stephen
    Voted No
    01/05/2019
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    Another law to justify a commission existence. Test the driver, if they refuse assume they are stoned.

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  • Kathleen
    Voted Yes
    01/05/2019
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    This is the same as drinking and driving or texting while driving. It’s a distraction to driving.

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