RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- We are getting closer to seeing medical marijuana available in Nevada. Local law enforcement is watching closely, because there is concern about driving under the influence of marijuana.
News 4 spoke with officials on Wednesday that said even if you have a prescription, you cannot drive under the influence of pot.
The DUI laws will remain the same. Driving while stoned is illegal. With medical marijuana soon available in our area, stoned driving is something local law officers will be watching for.
Think of marijuana along the same lines as narcotic pain pills. You would not take Vicoden or Percocet and get behind the wheel. Pot is the same way.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dave Gibson said pot slows you down and can impair your driving. "Your reaction time is slower. If you're thinking you're doing the right thing, or maybe you're drifting off the road, by the time you realize that you're doing something wrong, it could be too late to actually react to it, because your body and senses are slower."
Erratic driving can tip off an officer and make them pull you over. There are telltale signs that you might be under the influence of pot. "It could be bloodshot eyes, watery eyes," said Gibson. "You know, it's very hard to mask the smell."
And if pot is suspected, Reno Deputy Chief Tom Robinson said officers will ask you to step out of the car. "Our officers are trained to pay attention to their interaction with the driver, and if they start exhibiting certain signs, we may start doing what we call field sobriety testing."
Unlike alcohol that has the breathalyzer, determining marijuana is more challenging. "There are actually two different things that we can test for in your blood or urine," said . "There's an active ingredient and there's a metabolite."
Because pot can stay in the body for up to 30 days, this test measures the component that actually makes you high. A blood test measures the component that actually makes you high. It also measures the metabolite or marijuana that is in your system, and there are legal thresholds for both.
However, a local defense attorney said it is more complicated than that. Larry Dunn said while there is a legal threshold for pot, he says the active and metabolite numbers might not measure whether you are impaired. This is important if you are a long term marijuana user.