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What to know before road-tripping with marijuana

Ar 170529875
Alexi Grojean/Special to DGO
Ar 170529875
Alexi Grojean/Special to DGO

Its almost summer, and summer for me is road trip time! Cars packed with goodies, tunes blasting on the stereo, a myriad of destinations lay before you as you cruise on down the road: World’s biggest ball of string, albino alligators, and one of my personal favorite oddities, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve – where Colorado keeps all of the world’s excess sand. There’s nothing better than vacation. Unless it’s vacation with weed. Freshly legal, Colorado cannabis can now accompany you on your summer road trip. But to keep you in the green, and in the clear, there are a few rules to remember while you are on the road.

First, driving high is just as illegal as driving drunk. The legal limit of marijuana in Colorado is 5 nanograms of TCH. This can be difficult to measure, being that TCH is fat soluble. For most users, their peak high experience when smoking is around 13 nanograms (edibles are an entirely different experience and you should never drive the same day you eat an edible). Most people who smoke should be sober within four hours of smoking, although this varies wildly from user to user. And while some may argue that marijuana does not impair their driving, science will argue otherwise. Driving high can slow your reaction times, affect hand and eye coordination, as well as depth perception. You can also get a DUI, which can cost as much as $13,500 plus jail time. It’s just not worth it. Smoke it when you get there, or have a designated driver.

Like alcohol, there is an open container law regarding marijuana in Colorado, so it’s best to keep everything sealed and in your trunk with all your other road trip gear. Colorado law allows up to one ounce of bud per person, (or 8 grams of concentrate per person, or 800 mg of edibles per person). If your passengers want to consume, they should get out to smoke or snack on a few brownies before hitting the road and then put it all in the cooler in the back. If you really want to smoke while your buddy is driving, the best solution is a vape pen. Smoking a bowl is quite obvious and toking up a big joint is going to make the car reek like weed if you are unlucky enough to get pulled over. The best advantage to vapor is it disappears into the air fairly quickly, so its smell doesn’t permeate your car’s interior. Remember the cannabis you buy in Colorado has to be consumed in Colorado; you cannot drive with it across state lines.

As far as where to puff, the laws in Colorado are pretty clear. It is illegal to smoke in the National Forest or any national parks or monuments because marijuana is still federally illegal. You can get up to six months in jail and $5,000 in fines. The Colorado Clean Air Act prohibits smoking in any public place, which pretty much covers any place you can’t smoke cigarettes. The general rule is that any place you can be seen or smelled by others is not a good place to smoke. So what’s a good pothead to do? Most Coloradans turn a blind eye to a little pot smoking if it’s on the down low and not in front of children. If you are smoking with people smoking cigarettes, where smoking is allowed and you aren’t being too obvious, it is usually acceptable among adults.

My best advice is to use some common sense and be respectful to those around you. The ability to smoke cannabis in Colorado is a marvelous personal freedom. Enjoy responsibly, and happy trails!

Meggie J is a published poet and freelance writer living in the Four Corners. She is an avid reader, rafter, and connoisseur of cannabis. She can be reached at coxwell.meggiej@gmail.com.