Ask a Lawyer: Can you carry cannabis in your car?

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.

The first 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.

And 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.

Moreover, the legal concept of care or control extends to acts that fall short of actually driving. This 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 – farm equipment, are illegal places to spark up.

But 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 ticket-able offence to simply have cannabis in your vehicle, regardless of whether you are consuming it or not. In Ontario, Bill 36 functions in a similar manner. In fact, in every province so far, the rules are relatively consistent with respect to the ban on cannabis in cars.

So, 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?

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.

And 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:

firstly, don’t consume cannabis inside your vehicle;

secondly, don’t break the original seal and bring cannabis into the cab;

and thirdly, remember that the best place for cannabis is probably inside the trunk.

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


Disclaimer: The content in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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