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Nevada bill would exempt medical patients from some marijuana driving laws

Posted on May 15, 2013 by News Admin

If the state allows people to use medical marijuana, they should also allow those patients to drive so long as they aren't impaired. That's the gist of a law currently making its way through the Nevada legislature that would exempt medical marijuana patients from laws prohibiting drivers from having any marijuana - active or inactive - in their systems.

Assembly Bill 351, introduced back in March, would amend current state medical marijuana code to allow medical marijuana patients in Nevada to drive a car or operate a boat if they have trace amounts of marijuana in their system.

Under current Nevada law, those patients would be found guilty of state drugged driving laws if even the slightest trace of inactive THC was found in a blood or urine test. Marijuana metabolites can stay in the body for as long as a month, though at that point the residual THC is already used up and has no effect on the human body.

"Marijuana is currently the only drug we have a limit where we say, 'you have this much, so you must be impaired,'" Rep. William Horne, who sponsored the bill, told the Nevada Senate Health and Human Services Committee. "I think that's unfair. I don't have a problem with the per se limits being there for everybody else," Horne said. "What I am saying is, for a patient, those per say limits should not apply because we don't apply them to any other drug."

But at least a few Nevada lawmakers aren't interested in real science or the basic understanding of what is going on with their constituents.

According to The Republic, Kieckhefer Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, the law should applied evenly to recreational and medical users alike. "This is making a policy statement that that threshold doesn't impair your ability to drive," he said. If he only knew how correct he was.

Others argued that the bill gives stoned drivers a "get out of jail" card. "It would make more sense to ban people who use marijuana from driving entirely, rather than saying people who use it regularly can drive without worrying about the per se limits," said one Clark County District Attorney.

The bill makes it clear that medical marijuana patients would still be breaking the law if they were driving or boating under the influence of marijuana. Prosecutors would still be able to use blood tests

The Marijuana Policy Project has joined the fight as well, and urges all Nevada residents to write their representatives and tell them to vote for the bill. "Nevada's patients should not be prohibited from driving simply because they benefit from the use of medical marijuana," MPP said in a press release this week. "DUI's should be based on impairment - not whether drivers have a legal substance in their bloodstream."

The bill has passed through the Nevada general assembly and is now in the Senate Health and Human Services committee. As of press time, the bill had not been placed on any agendas for this week. Nevada residents can write their representatives from the MPP website using a pre-written message.