Pubdate: Tue, 14 Jul 2015
Source: Alaska Dispatch News (AK)
Copyright: 2015 Alaska Dispatch Publishing
Note: Anchorage Daily News until July '14
Author: Michelle Theriault Boots


The authors of a proposed Anchorage ordinance expanding 
open-container laws to marijuana want you to keep your cannabis in 
the trunk of your car.

Anchorage Assembly members Ernie Hall and Amy Demboski will introduce 
four proposed ordinances at Tuesday's Assembly meeting that touch on 
the finer points of marijuana regulation, from defining "personal 
cultivation" to possession of cannabis in limousines.

A chance for the public to weigh in will come later.

The proposed ordinances are largely "housekeeping" matters of 
bringing municipal code into alignment with state statute, Hall said.

But they also contain provisions that could, if they become law, 
shape the way Anchorage residents do things like drive a batch of 
marijuana brownies to a friend's house.

Chief among them is the ordinance that would update the alcoholic 
beverage open-container law to include marijuana.

The ordinance says that marijuana must be kept out of the passenger 
compartment of a vehicle. In most cases, that means keeping pot in the trunk.

In a station wagon, hatchback or other vehicle without a trunk, it 
could be stored "behind the last upright seat." Transporting 
marijuana via motorcycle would be permitted.

An exception is also made for cannabis "in the possession of a 
passenger in a motor vehicle for which the owner receives direct 
monetary compensation and that has a capacity of 12 or more persons," 
such as a charter bus.

Passengers riding in a licensed limousine could carry marijuana as 
long as the windows are tinted and the partition between driver and 
passengers is closed.

But the proposed ordinance is silent on whether marijuana, like 
alcohol, could be consumed inside a limo.

Dan Baird, owner of Aurora Limousines, is not interested in allowing 
his customers to use marijuana in his limos.

"I hadn't thought of it," he said. "But no, we would not want to 
permit any drug use of any type beyond alcohol. That smoke would 
definitely go up in the driver's area anyway. It'd be like cigarette smoke."

Attorneys say the "trunk rule" is a way around the fact that, unlike 
a beer or bottle of vodka, baggies of pot and edibles aren't easily 
identified as sealed or open.

"Marijuana and marijuana products come in many different forms," 
municipal attorneys Seneca Theno and Christie White wrote in a memo 
attached to the proposed ordinance. "It is likely that most of the 
packing will not lend itself well to open versus closed distinctions."

Simply prohibiting marijuana in the passenger areas of a vehicle will 
be simpler for drivers to understand and police to enforce, they wrote.

In Colorado and Washington, attorneys already advise clients to store 
pot in the trunk, despite legal gray areas about where it can be 
carried in vehicles and what constitutes a sealed or open container.

But on a state level, others haven't gone all the way to a trunk rule.

"I am not aware of any other states that have expanded their open 
container laws to include marijuana," wrote Alison Masbury, an 
attorney who works with cannabis business clients at HarrisMoure, a 
Seattle law firm.

The other proposed ordinances being introduced Tuesday cover:

Using a fake ID or other fraudulent means to buy marijuana;

Adding marijuana to existing laws prohibiting minors from driving 
under the influence;

Adding definitions to rules governing personal cultivation of marijuana.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom