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By Miriam Raftery

September 16, 2017 (Sacramento) – Smoking or consuming marijuana in any form while driving or riding in vehicles will be illegal in California starting January 1 under Senate Bill 65, a bill by Senator Jerry Hill that Governor Brown signed Monday.

“This bill simply makes our laws on using marijuana while driving or riding in cars consistent with our laws on consuming alcohol while driving or riding in vehicles,” Senator Jerry Hill, author of the measure, says.

SB 65, prompted by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, enhances Proposition 64, the recreational marijuana initiative, which makes it illegal to have an open container of pot in a vehicle but does not address use of marijuana products by drivers or passengers.

“You should be holding the steering wheel -- not a joint or an edible," District Attorney Rosen said. "There is nothing recreational, medicinal or legal about hurting someone in a car accident when you’re high. Please don’t do it.” 

The bill adds marijuana consumption to the law prohibiting alcohol consumption, which is an infraction currently punishable with a base fine of $70.

In 2012, the California Office of Traffic Safety released a study of weekend nighttime drivers that found more California drivers tested positive for marijuana than alcohol.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2007 to 2014 the number of nighttime weekend drivers in the U.S. with marijuana in their system increased nearly 50 percent.

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