PEI

Woman charged after police see open bag of pot in car

Driving with an open bag of marijuana within your reach would be no different than driving with an open bottle of beer in your car’s cup holder, police say.

Under new law, cannabis cannot be accessible to driver or passengers in car

On Tuesday night, the Summerside Police Department laid its first charge under the new Cannabis Control Act. (CBC)

Driving with an open bag of marijuana within your reach would be no different than driving with an open bottle of beer in your car's cup holder, police say.

Cpl. Jason Blacquiere made the comparison after the Summerside Police Department laid its first charge under the new Cannabis Control Act.

Just after 11 p.m. Tuesday night, police stopped a 21-year-old Summerside woman for a traffic violation and noticed an open bag of marijuana "in close proximity" to her. Because there were no signs of impairment, Blacquiere said no field sobriety test was conducted, but the woman was fined $275 for having open cannabis in the car.

"There's nothing specific as to where it has to be, it just has to be not accessible to the driver or passengers that are in the vehicle," Blacquiere said.

Trunk is the safest place

As with opened liquor, Blacquire recommends cannabis that has been opened should be placed in the trunk when it is being transported.

"That would remove any doubt whatsoever as to whether or not it was accessible to anyone in the vehicle."

Blacquiere said police will have to use "a lot of common sense" when enforcing the new legislation.

"The case last night where our officer laid a charge would kind of be the equivalent of driving down the road with an open beer in your console."

On Oct. 26, a 48-year-old Kings County woman was charged with impaired driving after officers "a strong odour of burnt marijuana" in her car.

In a tweet on Monday, RCMP reminded drivers that it is still illegal to "hot box" your car — a term used for smoking cannabis in an enclosed area.

"If you choose to smoke or carry it in your vehicle we will smell it.... After all, it stinks," the tweet said.

Purchased legally or not?

What police may not be able to determine, Blacquiere said, is whether the marijuana was purchased legally.

"If somebody has a bag of marijuana that's not in packaging from the cannabis store, trying to prove or determine where that cannabis actually came from would be next to impossible."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Laura Chapin

now