Geoff Dornan

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August 21, 2014
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Nevada panel wants marijuana intoxication laws revised

Saying the existing statutes punish people who aren’t actually impaired, a subcommittee studying Nevada’s medical marijuana laws is recommending changes to the impaired driving, employment and other statutes.

The motion was made by Clark County Commissioner and former Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani.

“We need to get rid of the impairment standards in here for medical marijuana,” she said.

Nevada Revised Statutes 484C.120(3), says it’s against the law to drive with 5 nanograms of marijuana metabolite per milliliter in the blood

“It was just a number that was picked out of the air because it was the lowest number,” she said.

Subcommittee member John Watkins agreed saying the level in which a marijuana user is impaired should be determined just as it has been for alcohol and prescription drugs, not arbitrarily without evidence. He emphasized that, in no way was he advocating impaired people be allowed to drive.

Advocates have expressed concern basically any medical marijuana patient would be breaking the DUI laws by driving under the current standard even though they know they aren’t impaired.

A paper on the subject by the Humboldt Journal of Social Relations states those per se standards need to be re-examined nationwide, “because the imposition of such limits may, in some instances, inadvertently criminalize behavior that poses no threat to traffic safety.”

Scientists say metabolites remain in the systems of regular pot users for several weeks. They have said THC is actually the substance that needs to be measured to determine whether some one is intoxicated on marijuana but measuring Delta-9 THC in the blood was not possible when the law originally passed.

The Marijuana Policy Project issued a paper stating a single dose of THC produces metabolites that can remain in the blood up to 12 days, “long after the psychoactive effects of the substance have worn off.” The project also pointed out research indicated Nevada’s 2 nanogram limit was below the level in which anyone was impaired.

At least eight states have even stricter laws than Nevada: a zero tolerance for any level of THC or metabolites.

Giunchigliani said employment laws also need to be changed so some one legally entitled to use marijuana for medical reasons can’t be denied employment.

The recommendation is one of several that will be presented to the full Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice. That panel will decide which recommendations to include in legislation submitted to the 2015 Nevada Legislature.

The subcommittee also approved a recommendation to remove marijuana from Nevada’s definition of a Schedule 1 drug. Those are drugs that have been deemed to have no medicinal value. Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said Nevada has already determined that to be false by making medical marijuana a legal treatment for a number of chronic illnesses.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Aug 22, 2014 10:51AM Published Aug 21, 2014 11:31PM Copyright 2014 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.