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This New Law Means You Can Get A $70 Fine For Smoking Pot While Driving Or Riding In A Car

(Photo by Julia Wick/LAist)
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Here in the Wild West of California, municipalities are scrambling to put together cannabis oversight frameworks in the wake of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state. While they cheered the November 2016 passage of the 420-friendly proposition, lawmakers and local governments were also left with a great deal of loose ends to deal with, from implementing cannabis licensing to regulations regarding driving under the influence.

On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that closes one "loophole" left by the passage of Proposition 64: the question of toking while driving. While Proposition 64 made it illegal to have an open container of pot in a vehicle, it didn't specifically address the use of marijuana products while behind the wheel. Although it's also already illegal to drive while high, Senate Bill 65 specifically prohibits the smoking or consumption of marijuana products while driving or riding in a vehicle.

“This legislation makes our laws for smoking while driving consistent with drinking while driving,” State Senator Jerry Hill said in a statement last December, when he introduced the bill.

The text of the law references not just smoking but also "ingesting" marijuana products, meaning it also applies to edibles. The L.A. Times reports that the new law makes violations punishable with a $70 fine. According to the Times, the law was written in anticipation of the state's January 1, 2018 start date for legalized recreational marijuana sales.

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The law will go into effect on January 1, 2018.