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Medical Marijuana - The Debate Rages On
CARSON CITY — Weighing in on how Nevada should test people for stoned driving, lawmakers advanced a measure on Friday to eliminate urine samples as a viable measure for police to show a driver to be impaired by marijuana. Under the bipartisan proposal, law enforcement officers would continue using blood tests to prove a person was illegally operating a passenger car, commercial truck or boat while high. The bill would retain specific legal limits set in 1999 for drivers’ blood content of THC, the psychoactive chemical in pot. Anyone with a blood-THC level at or above 5 nanograms per milliliter is considered too high to drive. ADVERTISING “There’s still no proof that those standards mean anything, but at least we’re moving to something which is scientifically provable,” said Sen. Tick Segerblom, a Las Vegas Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Researchers at the Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine are among experts who say marijuana’s cognitive impairment cannot practically be detected in urine. Marijuana can be identified in urine but not accurately measured, the Touro study shows, making it a less-expensive option to blood tests for checking on simple prior use but improper to measure impairment. Others question the blood-THC measure. The automobile federation AAA commissioned a study last year that found no scientific basis reliably linking THC measures to whether a person is impaired. Traces of marijuana can remain in a person’s blood for weeks — and at high levels in frequent users. In 2016, Nevada was one of six states that had set exact THC blood thresholds for drivers. Courts and juries in several of the 26 states that allow some form of marijuana use have upheld the rights of marijuana users to rebut the blood tests or decided in individual cases that blood testing is inaccurate. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Assembly Bill 135, sending it to the full Senate for consideration. Members of the Assembly voted 34-4 to approve it last month.
Medical Marijuana - The Debate Rages On
As marijuana states back off of social marijuana use for fear of inciting a federal crackdown, Nevada is bucking the trend and pushing ahead with pot clubs. Senate Bill 236, which would let local governments permit marijuana social clubs and other forms of public use currently outlawed, took one step closer to becoming law Tuesday. The bill passed with a 12-9 vote on Tuesday, and it now goes to the Assembly. On Monday, Clark County’s marijuana advisory panel finalized recommendations for for county commissioners that detail how marijuana lounges in Southern Nevada could work. But other states have exercised more caution under the Trump administration. ADVERTISING In Colorado this month, lawmakers gutted a bill that would have permitted social pot clubs after Gov. John Hickenlooper warned that such a move could draw the ire of the administration and bring federal drug enforcers down upon the state’s billion-dollar industry. In Alaska, lawmakers delayed a law allowing consumption in dispensaries, and Maine is considering a similar move. That leaves the door open for Nevada to become the first state to allow regulated social clubs. The move seems to have support from the gaming industry. Adults 21 and older can possess (and later this year buy) up to an ounce of marijuana, but the law that took effect Jan. 1 makes it so they can only consume that in a private residence. That leaves tourists who stay on the Strip or other resort properties in a conundrum: They will be able to buy pot legally, but will have no place to use it because casinos have been told to keep it off their properties or risk losing their licenses. “Tourists don’t have a home in Nevada,” bill sponsor Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said on the Senate floor before the vote. Pot lounges in Clark County would be located off the Strip, and could act as a “safe haven” for tourists who want to use marijuana, said Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands Corp. senior vice president, at Monday’s panel meeting. Not having those lounges, Abboud added, would cause tourists to bring the drug onto the casino properties and “dump the responsibility onto the resort corridor.” Tony Alamo, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, echoed those thoughts, saying those lounges would keep gaming companies from running afoul with the federal law. Revenue source The Senate voted down party lines, with 11 Democrats and independent Sen. Patricia Farley voting yes, and nine Republicans casting “nay” votes. Segerblom noted Gov. Brian Sandoval’s two-year budget calls for roughly $70 million from a special marijuana sales tax, and said tourists are an important part of that goal. “We’re trying to get $70 million in tax revenue from them,” Segerblom said. “So let’s give them some place to use it.” Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, noted two reasons why he was voting against he bill: He thinks the people who voted for the marijuana ballot measure in November did so thinking that people would only be able to consume in their homes, and because most of the counties he represents voted against legalization.