Pull over, roll up

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.

So listen. I like to smoke weed in my car. Not while I am driving, or before I drive, but usually after I get to my destination before I walk into wherever I am going. Is that cool?

—Hotbox Harry

It’s cool with me, however the state of California may have a small problem with it. It used to be that if you had a valid letter of recommendation, you were allowed to smoke in a vehicle, as long as said vehicle was not in motion. However, last month, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 65 into law. This new law makes it illegal for anyone, be they driver or passenger, to smoke in a car or a boat. At any time. Get caught smoking in a car, and it will cost you 70 bucks. Makes sense to me. People shouldn’t smoke and drive. Even though hotboxing a car is a time honored tradition, this is one of those things we have to deal with in order to have legal marijuana. But now, the problem is that even though weed is legal, no one is allowed to smoke in the street. Or at the beach. Or in their car. Or while waiting in line for a movie or a meal. Apparently, pot smokers should just stay home. Laws like this underscore the need for cities and counties to allow and approve cannabis soil lounges, or bud bars, or whatever you want to call it, in order to give people a place to legally consume cannabis. A solution: Step out of your car and find a secluded spot, or just blaze one in your (non-moving) car anyway. Cops can’t use the smell of weed as a pretext for searches anymore. Good luck.

Hey, does cannabis impair one’s ability to drive? And how can the cops tell if you are stoned?

—Hotbox Henrietta

Of course weed impairs your ability to drive. Duh. No one should drive while stoned. Ever. That being said, there aren’t any objective tests that can discern whether or not someone is too stoned to drive. Cops will try to tell you that if you have a “green tongue,” you are probably stoned, but this method is decidedly unscientific. They can give you a field sobriety test, but the test they use is designed to detect drunkenness, not stoniness. Blood tests can show how much THC you have in your system, but THC levels (THC can stay in your bloodstream long after the effects have worn off) don’t always denote impairment, and unlike alcohol, where a BAC level of .08 implies that you are too drunk to drive, there is no recognized threshold for THC at which impairment is assumed. Although some studies (and most of my friends) say that stoned drivers are no worse than sober drivers, it is best to be cool and be clean while you are driving.

Stay high, stay safe, stay woke and hug your friends.