Capitol Alert

You can smoke marijuana on California party buses. A lawmaker wants to protect their drivers

A California lawmaker is looking to close what he calls a loophole in the law that could lead drivers of cannabis-oriented “party buses” vulnerable to a second-hand high.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, introduced Senate Bill 625, which would require vehicles like buses, limousines and taxicabs that permit cannabis use to provide the driver with a sealed, separately ventilated space.

“SB 625 will prohibit cannabis use in these vehicles unless safety standards are followed,” Hill said while testifying in support of his bill Wednesday.

A cottage industry of marijuana tourism has sprung up since California legalized recreational use of the drug in 2016. The state has seen a nearly 300 percent increase in internet searches for cannabis tourism, according to Amy Jenkins of the California Cannabis Industry Association, which supports SB 625.

“We can assume many of these tourists are, or will be, taking advantage of California’s newly compliant cannabis marketplace,” Jenkins said.

Around California, cannabis companies market party buses in the same way that small businesses in Napa County offer winery tours.

It’s illegal for a passenger, or driver, of a vehicle to smoke marijuana in a vehicle that is traveling on a state highway. California law allows an exemption for passengers of buses, taxis and limousines, something Hill described as “a loophole” he intends to close.

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