A therapeutic massage with a THC-infused topical — could it result in a positive drug test? (Cyrus McCrimmon, Denver Post file)

Cannabist Q&A: drug tests and topicals, open container law, “enclosed” growing

Welcome to our Ask The Cannabist column. Clearly you have questions about marijuana, be it a legal concern, a health curiosity, a Colorado-centric inquiry or something more far-reaching. Check out our expansive, 64-question Colorado marijuana FAQ first, and if you’re still curious, email your question to Ask The Cannabist at askthecannabist@gmail.com.

Hey, Cannabist!
I’ve read a lot about marijuana-infused topicals, most recently in The Cannabist’s piece on THC-infused massages  being offered by Colorado massage therapists. But if you use these once — or regularly, even — will they ever show up on a drug test?
–Aching Adult on Adams St.

Hey, Aching!
I can’t wait for my next cannabis-infused massage!  Cannabis topicals are effective for pain relief and do not produce a high, according to Denver physician Dr. Alan Shackelford, who says, “Topically applied marijuana extracts have been found to be extremely effective for the treatment of pain, and do not exert any psychoactivity whatsoever.”

I asked James Kennedy, owner of Apothecanna, a licensed marijuana-infused product manufacturer that makes topicals, for the scoop on drug testing. Kennedy says in the case of most topicals the answer is no, one time or even regular use would not show up on a drug test. Lotions and salves do not enter the bloodstream, and therefore do not show up on standard drug tests. Kennedy says “standard” because there are some drug tests that are more in-depth — like if you were applying for a job with the FBI.

Apothecanna has run its own investigative drug tests with individuals who do not use cannabis. After a week of using Apothecanna products, the testers took drug tests, nothing showed up on the results, Kennedy says.  I hope this is the reassurance you need to book a cannabis-infused massage! XO

Topicals: There’s another THC-infused oil designed specifically for the bedroom — with women in mind

Hey, Cannabist!
I was wondering if you could clear up a discussion among friends.  If you have some legally purchased marijuana in your car, say in a container in the console, backpack, or glove box, could this be considered the same as having an open container of alcohol in the car and illegal, or a probable cause for a DUI testing? –Wagering in Wheat Ridge 

Hey, Wagering!
Were there any money or bets placed on the outcome of this friendly conversation? The answer is ambiguous, it’s hard to say who would win!  Right now, according to Trooper Nate Reid of Colorado State Patrol, an open container of marijuana is not clearly defined in statute or case law. This means what is considered an open container is an issue of interpretation.

For alcohol, if the container is open to the air, says Trooper Reid, it is considered an open container. But corked wine, purchased at a restaurant for example, is not considered an open container because it is sealed shut.  Um, so an opened bottle of wine may not necessarily be considered an open container if it is corked. For marijuana, it is up to the officer’s interpretation to decide what is an open container.

As you might know, state regulations require all recreational purchases to be placed in “exit packaging” — bags that are opaque, child resistant and resealable back to a child-resistant state.  If the marijuana being transported is freshly purchased from a marijuana center, keep it sealed in the exit packaging until you get home and stash it in the trunk.

Since an open container is considered an interpretive issue, let’s at least understand the best and most appropriate ways to transport marijuana in a vehicle.  Trooper Reid says law enforcement officers are concerned for the care of the other occupants of the vehicle, especially children and pets. Trooper Reid says kids or pets should not have access to marijuana while in the vehicle. If you have either type of passenger, he recommends transporting marijuana either in a glove box, console or other vehicle compartment that locks. If there are no kids or pets, stow marijuana in the trunk or rear of the vehicle away from the driver.

According to the state’s official marijuana website,  it is illegal to have marijuana in the passenger area of a vehicle in an open container or a container with a broken seal, or if there is evidence marijuana has been consumed.

Marijuana in the vehicle is not considered probable cause for a DUID blood test, says Trooper Reid. First, a driver must be pulled over for an observed traffic infraction.  Secondly, openly visible marijuana is not enough evidence for probable cause for DUID, an officer must have more evidence of impairment in order to charge the driver with a DUID. XO

Cannabist Q&A: Been pulled over by police? Know your rights

Hey, Cannabist!
For growing cannabis at home, is a yard with a privacy fence around it, all gates locked, considered an enclosed space? The plant would not be growing in open or public. What if the neighbors could see the plants from their second-story windows? –Grafting Girls on Gaylord St.

Hey, Gaylord Grafter! 
A bill passed in March this year clarifies “enclosed”:

“Enclosed” means a permanent or semi-permanent area covered and surrounded on all sides. Temporary opening of windows or doors or the temporary removal of wall or ceiling panels does not convert the area into an unenclosed space.

  So, to grow marijuana outside, it must be enclosed above and on the sides of the plants (think greenhouse), in addition to being locked away from children and pets.  Marijuana attorney Sean McAllister says it’s safest not to grow outside at all. McAllister says the view from the sky is considered public. The views from your neighbor’s second-story windows or the aerial view from any overhead plane or helicopter is considered public — even a high privacy fence with a locking gate is not sufficient for growing marijuana outside.

So what happens if you don’t follow the home-grow laws? McAllister says that if marijuana is being grown openly and publicly, versus locked and enclosed, the law is not being followed and the grower forfeits the rights and protection of the constitutional marijuana laws.

Depending on where you live, McAllister says, prosecutors use discretion in charging tenants or landowners. In some jurisdictions across the state, no charges would be filed. In conservative counties, prosecution is more likely. Before you grow outside, check your local municipal regulations (Golden recently prohibited outdoor growing). Even then, the charge for growing 1-6 marijuana plants is a misdemeanor charge, according to McAllister.

Here are the details on Colorado’s constitution, with regard to plants:

The following acts are not unlawful:
Possessing, growing, processing, or transporting no more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants, and possession of the marijuana produced by the plants on the premises where the plants were grown, provided that the growing takes place in an enclosed, locked space, is not conducted openly or publicly, and is not made available for sale.


Way to grow: More stories about home cultivation — tips and tricks, seeds, local regulations and more