11/08/2018 11:31 EST | Updated 11/08/2018 11:48 EST

What Drivers And Passengers Need To Know About B.C.'s Legal Weed Laws

If you follow these rules, then you should be driving in the clear.

By now, we should all know that driving a motor vehicle with cannabis in your body could result in harsh legal penalties. But what about driving with cannabis in your car?

Now that cannabis is legal, adults are able to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis or its equivalent in public places. However, when it comes to your motor vehicle, there are a number of restrictions about how that should be done in order to properly comply with the law.

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Regulating the laws around highway safety and the general operation of motor vehicles falls almost exclusively under the jurisdiction of provincial government, so each province will inevitably take a slightly different approach. British Columbia has enacted a new set of provincial laws — embodied in the "Cannabis Control and Licensing Act" — in order to regulate cannabis in cars, amongst other things. In order to understand the laws, drivers should start there.

The driver is always responsible

The golden rule when it comes to cannabis in cars is to avoid consuming inside a motor vehicle, full stop.

Obviously, drivers should abstain from consuming cannabis at all times while driving, but this restriction applies to passengers just as much as it does to those who are behind the wheel. As the owner and operator of a motor vehicle, you should be vigilant in ensuring that no one smokes, vapes or otherwise consumes cannabis while you're in charge. Otherwise, both you and your passengers could face legal consequences.

It does not matter if you're parked or if you have no intention of actually putting the vehicle in motion.

British Columbia's "Cannabis Control and Licensing Act" prohibits drivers and passengers alike from smoking or vaping cannabis inside motor vehicles and on boats. Those who contravene the law will face monetary fines, as a number of British Columbian's have already learned.

Being parked is no excuse

Pulling over before consuming won't help your case.

It does not matter if you're parked or if you have no intention of actually putting the vehicle in motion. The prohibition against consuming cannabis in motor vehicles extends to all vehicles — regardless of whether you are driving or not.

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Moreover, the legal concept of care or control extends to acts that fall short of actually driving. This concept is regularly used in alcohol-impaired driving cases and it means that simply sitting in a motor vehicle could be enough to fall under the definition, and the subsequent ambit of the law.

You may also want to keep in mind that these restrictions apply to all vehicles — not just cars or trucks. Even unconventional motor vehicles, like boats, motorized scooters and — in some provinces, like Manitoba, for example — farm equipment, are illegal places to spark up.

Keep marijuana out of the vehicle

Refraining from consuming in or on a motor vehicle won't necessarily save you from a ticket in the post-legalization landscape, either.

Simply having cannabis in your vehicle can constitute an offence.

Here in British Columbia, the "Cannabis Control and Licensing Act" makes it a ticketable offence to simply have cannabis in your vehicle, regardless of whether you are consuming it or not. If fact, in every province so far, the rules are relatively consistent with respect to the ban on cannabis in cars.

Exceptions to the rule

Does this mean that you have to walk or take the bus if you want to pick up some cannabis from a licensed dispensary and bring it home?

Marijuana should be transported sealed in the manufacturer's original packaging or where a car's occupants can't access it.

Not exactly — like most things, this restriction is subject to certain exceptions.

Adults operating a motor vehicle in British Columbia can lawfully transport cannabis so long as they comply with the law. This means that the product cannot be readily accessible to the driver and passengers in the vehicle, or that it is from a federal producer and remains in its original, unopened and fully sealed packaging.

Drivers can also transport up to four plants, so long as they are not budding or flowering. So make sure to take a close look before hitting the road with your plants in tow.

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While the law is new — and therefore may seem hazy right now — the best thing to do is to treat cannabis like alcohol in relation to your motor vehicle.

Apply the three golden rules:

  • Don't consume inside our vehicle;
  • Don't break the original seal or bring it into the cab;
  • Remember that the best place for it is probably inside the trunk.

If you follow these rules, then you should be driving in the clear.

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