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Driving with Weed in the Car: Where to Put Your Pot When Transporting Marijuana

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You just went to the dispensary. You toss your bag of bud into the passenger seat and head for home.

On the way home, you get pulled over for a broken taillight. Then the officer sees the marijuana.

Are you within your rights? Or have you just given the officer probable cause to search your car and test you for impaired driving?

Unless you’re a DUI attorney, chances are you have questions about how to transport marijuana legally.

In this article, we’ll look at where you can keep marijuana in your car to avoid unnecessary traffic tickets. Are you following Colorado law? Or have you been driving on borrowed time?

NO Driving While High!

Just like with alcohol has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit, there are set limits to how much cannabis you can have in your system and still be legally allowed to drive.

Once you go above 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of whole blood, you could be prosecuted for driving under the influence (DUI). That remains true whether you’re a recreational or medical cannabis consumer.

What does 5 nanograms of THC look like?

It’s hard to say. Different strains and products contain different amounts of THC. And we metabolize marijuana at a more diverse rate than alcohol.

Making things more difficult, the current blood test isn’t always accurate in assessing sobriety. A daily smoker may be sober at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Similarly, you may test over the limit many hours after smoking anything.

While having 5 nanograms or more of marijuana in your system may not be enough to automatically convict you of a DUI, we strongly recommend avoiding driving if you’ve had any cannabis in the past 4-6 hours.

Know the No-Go Zones (State Lines, Federal Land, and Airports)

Just because you bought marijuana legally in Colorado doesn’t mean you can take it wherever you want.

You can’t transport marijuana to across state lines. Similarly, you can’t bring weed to the airport (even if you’re traveling within the state of Colorado or just leaving the pot in your parked car).

And you should always avoid bringing cannabis onto federal land as it remains against federal law. This includes national parks, national forests, and many ski slopes and resorts. Even storing cannabis in your car is against the law on federal land. So, save your dispensary run for after your trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

No Open Containers

If the seal on your cannabis product has been broken, it’s considered an open container and could lead to DUI charges. In most cases, there will need to be evidence that some of the product was consumed in the car, but your best option is to avoid suspicion altogether and keep cannabis in a sealed container.

Even passengers aren’t allowed to open cannabis or use the product, regardless of whether they’re sitting next to you or hanging out in the back seat. If an officer sees someone in your car smoking pot or holding an open container, you could be on the hook for a DUI.

Open marijuana IS allowed in the living quarters of trailers or motor homes.

weed in trunk of car

Keep It Out of Reach

One of the safest ways to avoid a marijuana DUI is to keep any cannabis you’re transporting out of reach. Tossing an eighth into the passenger seat or glove box is easy, but it could be taken as evidence that the product was used in the car, particularly if you’ve already consumed part of the purchase at another time.

We encourage you to store any cannabis—but especially unsealed containers—in the trunk (or as far from the driver as possible).

Know the Limits

In addition to legal limits for marijuana in your bloodstream, Colorado has limits in place for how much cannabis you can possess at any given time. If you are transporting more than 1 ounce of cannabis, regardless of whether it was legally purchased, you are breaking the law and could be charged.

What Constitutes Probable Cause?

Probable cause is what allows an officer to search your car or request a blood test during a traffic stop.

Warrantless searches are on the decline in many states with recreational or medical marijuana, in part due to a ruling that the smell of pot isn’t enough to justify a search in Colorado. According to the Associated Press, drug-sniffing dogs that smell marijuana are NOT enough cause to search a vehicle without permission.

But that policy doesn’t hold true in every state. And the smell of marijuana is only one way that police can establish probable cause. If an officer sees you driving erratically and THEN smells cannabis in your vehicle (or sees marijuana products or containers within reach), the two factors could be enough to prompt a search of your vehicle.

The best way to stay legal and safe on the road is to keep cannabis in an odor-proof container in your trunk. This can also help the officer who pulled you over complete their traffic stop quickly and without needing to spend time and resources investigating whether or not you are intoxicated while driving.

Drive Safe So You Can Get Home and Get High

Now that you know how to legally transport marijuana from the dispensary, why not put your new knowledge to use with a trip to Karing Kind, Boulder’s first recreational cannabis dispensary.

Our organically grown bud, naturally extracted concentrates, and award-winning budtenders have made us a premier Colorado cannabis destination.


Karing Kind is located just off of US-36, one mile north of Broadway, open MON-SUN from 9am to 10pm.

While we carry a variety of strains, concentrates, edibles, salves and tinctures, inventory and stock levels fluctuate from week to week and month to month. Check our menu and follow us on Twitter for an up-to-date list of edibles, concentrates and buds available.