Driving and Odor

Blog smell odor in a car 5/15/2019

Am I staying legal if:

I’m only smoking in my car when I’m not driving.
I’m driving, not smoking. Just my friends in the car are smoking.
I’ve smoked earlier in the day
I’m not smoking, have not smoked, and have bud in the car, mine or otherwise.

The answer is easy.

If the car you’re in has any odor of pot, burning or not, you are not in a good position.
First, if a LEO (law enforcement officer) smells any pot odor, or even claims to smell it, you have a problem instantly.

First, the police-citizen encounter will be extended instead of ending quickly. That’s almost always bad for the driver and passengers.
Second, so much of what people think is not what the cops will testify to or how the cops are trained.
Third, the “Pot Open Container Law” is widely misunderstood and ignored. In short, to carry THC in the car, the rules are almost identical to carrying open alcohol. It must be in the trunk or rear-most compartment. IMO (in my opinion) it should never be carried in a way that leaves any odor in the car. So in addition to not smoking in the car, ever, what is carried in the trunk should be kept in an “O” ring sealed container, such as the Dry Box on Amazon for $15.00.

The Dry Box, for example, will keep the smell of stinky pot completely contained even when kept in a hot trunk for hours. In short, the car should never have any odor of marijuana at any time for any reason. Is this easy? No!

For example, what about the legal, “badged” employee of a legal cannabis grow who is coming home after a day’s work in the greenhouse. Or a day harvesting. That person will emit a strong odor of marijuana, clinging to skin, clothing, etc.

Countless people have, after being pulled over on the road, told LEOs that they smoked “earlier in the day,” thinking that protects them. While the science provides solid support for the level of active delta 9 THC levels in the blood dropping very rapidly, many cases have been prosecuted with “earlier in the day” smoking.

The percentage of DUI pot cases that I’ve seen that involved an odor of marijuana coming from the car or from the passengers is shockingly high. Attempts by the people being investigated to explain the odor (“I smoked hours ago” for example) are almost always harmful to the case.

SUMMARY: You simply cannot smoke in the car, driving or not. The car cannot ever have any smell of cannabis for any reason. With these two simple precautionary steps, the innocent will be in a much better position to present an effective defense, and perhaps more important, will have radically improved their chance of a brief, insignificant LEO interaction on the road.

Remember, in any conversation with the LEO, they have studied and learned their lines. You probably have not done that.

Future blogs will discuss how to proceed if the law enforcement interaction continues.

Travel Safely!

Lenny Frieling