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Does Colorado’s ‘open-container’ law apply to marijuana?

Many drivers are surprised to learn that Colorado actually has an “open container” law for marijuana. Yes, you read that correctly, the state’s open-container laws apply to more than just alcohol.

In fact, the marijuana open-container law is quite strict. Specifically, it states a person in the “passenger area” of a vehicle — i.e. the driver’s seat, the passenger’s seat, the seating behind the driver and any area accessible to the driver or passenger, including the glove compartment — may not knowingly have an open marijuana container while the vehicle is on a public roadway.

Colorado law defines an “open marijuana container” as “a receptacle or marijuana accessory that contains any amount of marijuana and:”

  • The container is open or has a broken seal;
  • The contents of the container are partially removed; and
  • There is some evidence that marijuana has been consumed/used in the vehicle.

This same statute also says that it is against the law to consume marijuana in the passenger area of a motor vehicle while on a public highway, despite the fact that recreational marijuana use is legal under Colorado law.

It is important to remember, however, there are some very specific exceptions to Colorado’s marijuana open container law, including situations involving motor homes, among others.

Ultimately, if you are found in violation of this law, you will likely face a class A traffic violation, which is typically punished by a fine.

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