Bills focus on keeping drugs and alcohol away from children | NevadaAppeal.com

Bills focus on keeping drugs and alcohol away from children

AMANDA FEHD
Associated Press Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Nevada Sens. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, left, and Joe Heck, R-Henderson, talk during a committee hearing Thursday at the Legislature. Earlier Thursday, Heck urged lawmakers to support a measure that would add marijuana to a list of drugs that cannot be manufactured, grown or sold in the presence of children.
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Drugs and alcohol were the order of business Thursday as the Assembly Judiciary Committee debated two bills on adults’ roles in keeping such substances away from children.

SB6, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Heck, R-Henderson, would add marijuana to a list of drugs that cannot be manufactured, grown or sold in the presence of children. The existing law was written to target home methamphetamine labs, where children are often harmed by chemicals used to cook the drug.

Heck said the recent seizure of 750 marijuana plants in one location in Pahrump underscores the need for such a statute.

Judiciary Chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, asked if there are chemicals that could harm children in the growing of marijuana. SB6 does not deal with the use of marijuana in front of a child, or providing it to a child.

Heck said toxic fertilizers often are used to grow pot, which is often coated or cut with other toxic substances before sale. Heck added that the violence often associated with the sale of large quantities of drugs also could harm children.

“There is a level of violence associated with illicit drug activity, irrespective of the drug,” Heck said.

Jason Frierson, representing the Clark County Public Defender’s Office, said the office opposes SB6 on grounds that child abuse and neglect laws are already in place to protect children in such circumstances.

“It’s our belief that even with the medical (marijuana) use statutes, this is going to end up targeting primarily casual users,” Frierson said. To ensure that people allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes, the quantities of pot and pot plants allowed under SB6 are modeled after those allowed under the state’s medical marijuana law.

SB7, sponsored by Sen. Valerie Wiener, D Las Vegas, targets adults who provide alcohol to minors. Adults who “knowingly” give or sell alcohol to minors could be held civilly liable for damages that result from car accidents or other mishaps caused by the minors.

Wiener said the bill is needed because underage drinking is on the rise. She said she’s responded to concerns from lawmakers, who rejected a similar measure in 2005, and has removed criminal penalties.

The measure also adds a higher standard, that an adult must knowingly provide the alcohol.