Can a Passenger Smoke Marijuana in a Moving Car?

Can you smoke marijuana in a moving car? You may assume it’s OK to smoke so long as you’re not the driver, but that’s wrong. Smoking while driving or in any moving vehicle is illegal for the driver and the passenger and dangerous in terms of car safety. 36 states in the U.S. have legalized the use of marijuana for people ages 21 years and above. However, smoking weed is restricted to private spaces only, and that doesn’t include your vehicle unless you’re living in it. 

According to News-Review, Passengers smoking weed in a moving car are not a danger to anyone on the road. However, smoking weed in a moving vehicle is considered public drug use. The penalty varies from state to state and may involve paying a fine. If you smoke weed and you’re wondering what other laws apply to smoking marijuana in a car, read on.   

Can you smoke marijuana in a parked car?

A man smoking in a car in Gdansk, Poland
A man smoking in a car | Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Since it’s illegal to smoke in a moving vehicle, you may wonder why not park it, smoke, then drive? That is also illegal, especially when you’re the driver. Parking lots are public spaces, and the same rules apply. So, no smoking marijuana in public spaces except for designated areas such as smoking zones.

Even though weed is legal in some areas, it’s still considered a drug. Rules and policies don’t allow anyone to operate machinery or drive a car while under the influence of drugs. Smoking weed induces a feeling of high and can impair judgment, among other side effects. Brain scientists and experts haven’t yet figured how to measure the extent to which weed affects the brain and the specific quantities. According to NBC News, any use of weed while driving is strictly prohibited. 

Driving when high can result in being charged with a DUI, and the penalties include a fine of up to $200 for first-time offenders and $250 and community service for second-time offenders.

In a state where pot is legalized, marijuana possession outside your primary residence is allowed, but only up to an ounce. You can have weed in your car, provided it’s sealed, placed in a locked compartment, or the trunk of your vehicle. This implies the transportation of marijuana, which is legal.

However, having weed displayed on the dashboard or anywhere where it’s not concealed implies intent to use it and is prohibited, whether the car is moving or not. The restrictions are similar to possession of an open container of alcohol which is subject to a $500 penalty.

Heavy penalties for pot possession 

According to WayOfLeaf, federal and state laws have no exact amount of marijuana to classify intent to sell. However, if you’re caught with more than 2 ounces and other evidence such as weed divided into packages and huge cash sums, you can be charged. For example, in Wisconsin, the sale of any amount of weed is classified as a felony, and the penalty is imprisonment for several years. 

Smoking in private spaces


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While marijuana is allowed in private spaces within some states, state governments have no jurisdiction over residential places. If the building owner or landlord decides to impose a no-drug rule on their premises, the state cannot intervene on behalf of the residents or tenants. According to Mass Live, you have to comply, and the landlord is well within their rights to issue an eviction notice for breach of the rules. 

The same applies to workplaces. According to Employment Law Firms, if a company has a no drug policy, employees can be subjected to drug tests and be fired if they test positive for marijuana, except for medical use. Patients who use marijuana for medical purposes must have a doctor’s prescription supporting their claim, and the state protects them from discrimination.