Las Vegas Sun

June 18, 2019

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State lawmaker tables DUI bill, wants marijuana-impairment study

State Sen. Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, is postponing a bill seeking tougher DUI penalties until the state can further study marijuana impairment.

Sales of recreational marijuana for those 21 and older became legal in Nevada in 2017. But detecting drivers who are high on cannabis products is not an exact science.

Almost any amount of THC — the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects — in the blood will get drivers in trouble in Nevada.

The legal limit to drive is two nanograms of marijuana or marijuana metabolite per milliliter of blood, which Hammond described as a questionable threshold.

Two nanograms “is actually the margin of error” for tests, “so you don’t know for sure if they are impaired,” Hammond said on "Nevada Newsmakers."

Hammond decided to pull back on his DUI legislation after meeting with some Nevada district attorneys and police representatives. He said the goal is to “make sure the laws for both DUIs for alcohol and for drugs — marijuana in this case — align better.”

“It is really about how long the effect of the drug stays in the body,” Hammond said. “You can still have some of the effects of the drug in your body and not be impaired.”

Hammond’s bill calls for, among other things, increasing the minimum sentence for a DUI conviction from two days to 30 days.

“This is one type of crime that I just don’t get,” Hammond said.

“People know that when they drink and get behind the wheel, they have the potential to take somebody else’s life, and that is selfish in my mind,” he said. “So the first time you have a DUI, we should be tough on them.”