A worker inspects a marijuana plant at High Country Healing, a Colorado marijuana retailer in Silverthorne, in January 2015. (Helen H. Richardson, Denver Post file)

Ask The Cannabist: What’s the best way to transport pot plants?

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, 100-question Colorado marijuana FAQ first, and if you’re still curious, email your question to Ask The Cannabist at askthecannabist@gmail.com.

Hey, Cannabist!
My friend is a caregiver and he needs to move from one facility to another. Is there a height requirement for how tall a plant can be to transport them in his vehicle? –Transporting Trees

Hey, Trees!
Nice question, it’s a good idea to know the best procedure for transporting plants before moving them. I asked marijuana compliance attorney Lauren Davis for the applicable laws for caregivers.  Davis says current regulations on plant heights during transportation apply to state-licensed businesses, not caregivers. So, your plants are able to be moved, legally, at any height.

As for the vehicle, it is best to be discreet and use a vehicle that provides the most privacy on the road. Davis recommends via email: “The safest way to transport the plants is in the back of a van or truck.  If it is a truck bed, you should cover the plants with a tarp so they are not visible as you are driving.”  The point is to not be obvious in displaying the cannabis cargo, and also protect the plants during transport.

The most important part is for all legal documentation to accompany the plants. Davis says of your caregiver, “While he is transporting the plants, he needs to have all patient paperwork in the vehicle with him.  This includes a copy of the registry card for each patient whose plants he is transporting, the physician’s certificate for any patient who is authorized to have more than six plants, paperwork showing he has been properly designated as a caregiver for those patients if he is not listed on the registry card (and the proof of mailing to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment), a valid driver’s license, car insurance and vehicle registration. If the police pull him over, he will need to provide the paperwork to them to show he is lawfully in possession of the plants.”   It’s simple, be sure all legal documentation always travels with the plants.

If processed marijuana is being transported as well, open-container laws apply to the marijuana.  Davis says: “A caregiver can be in possession of the cumulative amounts designated in the patient physician’s certifications of his patients.”  

Davis details open-container laws and best practices for transport.  “Just like you cannot have alcohol open in your car or accessible, you cannot have your marijuana open or accessible. The safest way to transport marijuana bud or products is in a locked, closed container in the trunk of your car or if your car does not have a trunk, in a sealed container in the area behind the last passenger seat. It is illegal to have marijuana anywhere that is accessible to the driver or to the passengers.  That means it cannot be in your center console, in your glove compartment, in your purse, etc.”

If you are pulled over by police, Davis says do not consent to a search.  Even with the caregiver documentation, Davis reminds, “As a general rule, officers cannot search your trunk or a closed container without a warrant.  My recommendation would be to deny consent to search your vehicle, do not consent to the search of any container inside the vehicle and do not admit to having any amount of marijuana in the vehicle.  Require the officer to get a warrant.”  

For a reminder on what to do if you get pulled over, read this previous Ask The Cannabist column. XO