Driving with pot in the vehicle? Here's what OPP say you need to know

Wellington County OPP have already laid a number of cannabis-related charges at their holiday RIDE check-stops, including charges related to storage, purchase and possession.

Drivers charged with variety of cannabis offences at holiday RIDE check stops in Waterloo region

Recreational cannabis is legal in Canada, but driving with it in your vehicle is not a "free for all," Ontario Provincial Police say. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Wellington County OPP have already laid a number of cannabis-related charges at their holiday RIDE check-stops, including charges related to storage, purchase and possession.

The first weekend of the program netted a charge against a Stoney Creek teen for "unlawfully purchased cannabis," one for "driving with cannabis readily available" against a Tiverton male and a "possession of cannabis resin" charge against a 26-year-old Guelph man.

That's in addition to marijuana-related impaired driving charges laid in November.

Wellington County OPP Const. Joshua Cunningham said the learning curve for how to transport cannabis and what remains illegal may be "a little steeper than expected."

"It's not a free for all," Cunningham said. "To say that cannabis is legal now isn't quite accurate. It's legal in certain ways and not always."

If you are planning on bringing cannabis with you somewhere in a vehicle, Cunningham recommends reading up on the rules.

Duffel bags, baggies and trunks

"Unsealed, open marijuana in the front seat of a car is the wrong place for it," Cunningham said. "The recommendation is: it has to be packaged or in a sealed bag or duffel that is easily clasped and not accessible to the driver."

Cunningham said it's not much different from alcohol, and it should be put in the trunk where it's not available to the driver or for anyone who is in the vehicle.

Buy from legal sellers or risk charges

Don't buy from illegal sellers and expect officers to look the other way, he said.

"We've spent the last two or so years realizing it's going to be legal, having some leniency on the road to this point," said Cunningham.

After two men were charged with "unlawfully purchased cannabis," at checkstops, Cunningham explained officers gathered evidence about how they acquired the marijuana and that lead to charges.

"There's lots of ways to find out if it's been purchased legally or illegally. One is packaging. Is it clear on the label that it's not from the Ontario Cannabis Store? Or is it the fact that someone has just been honest and said, 'This wasn't purchased from an Ontario Cannabis Store,'" Cunningham said.

Be careful who you share with

He said quantity levels and age limits are also a big one to note, especially if you plan on taking advantage of a provision in the legislation for sharing marijuana.

Age limits vary by province. In Ontario, the legal age to buy, use, possess or grow recreational cannabis is 19. 

"People are failing to see what their requirements are for that legal element," Cunningham said. "People who are going to enjoy this should take the time to look into the rules and regulations."

Festive RIDE check stops are set to continue through the holiday season around the province.

“There’s lots of ways to find out if it’s been purchased legally or illegally. One is packaging," said Const. Josh Cunningham. (Submitted: Greg Mac)


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