With the legalization of marijuana for adult use, new rules, regulations, and laws were sure to come. The Department of Health and Senior Services Division of cannabis Regulation has been working to post draft rules to amend and replace the existing rules that govern the current medical marijuana program, but there will be other changes sought as well.

One of the first pieces of marijuana-related legislation pre-filed for the 2023 Legislative Session would make it a misdemeanor to have an open marijuana container in a vehicle on a public road.

HB 295, introduced by Representative Kent Haden, R-Mexico, criminalizes the “possession of an open container of marijuana in a motor vehicle.”

The bill specifies an “open container of marijuana” as “marijuana, or a marijuana product, that is not stored in a secured, sealed or resealable, odor-proof, child-resistant package, container, or receptacle.”

Haden’s bill also states that the term person, “includes the driver or any passenger within the passenger area of the motor vehicle.”

If Haden’s bill is enacted possession of an open container of marijuana would become a class A misdemeanor.

“A person commits the offense of possession of an open container of marijuana in a motor vehicle if the person possesses an open container of marijuana in the motor vehicle that is on a public thoroughfare, including state roads; county roads; and public streets, avenues, boulevards, parkways, or alleys, or any public highway.”

While virtually every product purchased in a Missouri dispensary would meet the criteria when first purchased, transporting already open products or homegrown cannabis could be a bigger issue.

“From a common sense perspective, no one should be choosing to take an impairing or psychoactive substance and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle,” explained Cynthia L. Northcutt, RN, BSN, JD. “But this bill proposes to solve a problem which does not exist.”

Northcutt fits uniquely into the cannabis space as both a practicing attorney and a nurse, she has the unique insight of both legal and patient perspective and has become of one of the most relied-upon experts in the cannabis industry. “There are already laws on the books that prohibit operating any kind of vehicle while impaired,” she continued. “This bill would be over reaching. Missouri does not have an open container law regarding alcohol and this law would be more restrictive of a person’s possession while riding in a private vehicle than the law is with regard to possession of marijuana in public.”

Northcutt said there’s more that makes Haden’s proposal problematic, “Cannabis products, because of their variety, do not lend themselves easily to blanket prohibitions. The terms used in the language of the bill are too open to interpretation and go beyond the requirements set forth in the Constitution. Who decides how to define the term secured and what does it mean?”

 

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