Medical students reshape Nevada's DUI testing, laws concerning marijuana

LAS VEGAS - Two Touro University Medical Students are re-shaping Nevada's law when it comes to driving while high.  The students say they found a big problem with the old law.
   
The student's bill went into effect Saturday, July 1, the same day Nevada opened its recreational marijuana market. The regulation will help police prove if a driver is actually impaired.

The new law drafted by the students eliminates urine samples as a way to detect marijuana in drivers.  Charles Cullison and Graham Lambert say while urine testing can tell if someone has consumed marijuana, it can't determine if that person is impaired.

"The way that the law was written, people were being presumed cognitively impaired even though they weren't," Lambert said.

It was a major setback that was almost overlooked until the two medical students uncovered it.

"Under the previous version of the law, you could have been legally using it by the state law, and if you had a urine sample taken instead of a blood sample, you would have tested positive for the substance, when in reality, it's not impairing at all. It stays in your system after long periods of time," Cullison said.

To break it down, drivers who hadn't smoked pot in weeks could have been arrested for simply smoking marijuana. 

"The compound that they find is only found in urine," Cullison said. It does not cause impairment and can stay in your body for up to 76 days."

The compound had no correlation with impairment and stays in your system.

"At the same time, we also had people on the other spectrum that were cognitively impaired that weren't getting tested for the proper components to determine their impairment," Lambert said.

However, a blood test could accurately check for marijuana's primary ingredient. Lambert and Cullison were persuasive, and according to experts, they were also right.

"We were nervous that we weren't getting our point across first, but once we realized that people were truly understanding it and then it passed, we felt that we had done a good job," Cullison said.

The next step for the two researchers is to figure out how much is too much, so they want to take a closer look at determining what marijuana level is safe for drivers.

 


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