Rolling out legal pot in Las Vegas: road bumps and HIGH-lights - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Rolling out legal pot in Las Vegas: road bumps and HIGH-lights

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The Nevada Highway Patrol shared what they've been seeing after two pre-med students helped change the marijuana DUI laws. (FOX5) The Nevada Highway Patrol shared what they've been seeing after two pre-med students helped change the marijuana DUI laws. (FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

A major concern for people against the legalization of recreational marijuana was more people driving under the influence. The Nevada Highway Patrol shared what they've been seeing after two pre-med students helped change the marijuana DUI laws. 

Their names are Graham Lambert and Chris Cullison, and they aren't stereotypical marijuana advocates. As aspiring doctors, they said they can't even consume cannabis. 

"We are not for or against the use of marijuana. It's just not something we're interested in," Chris Cullison said. 

Cullison and Lambert were working on a project for Touro University when they discovered the way law enforcement was testing for marijuana DUIs was wrong. The students found the urine tests which were given out gave false positives for people who potentially hadn't smoked in weeks. Furthermore they found the blood test missed people who ate edibles. The two students first went to their professor, then from lawmaker to lawmaker to make a change. 

"We would go to their offices and just roll out this giant 4-by-6 (foot) poster and say, "Do you see this? This is what we're talking about," Cullison laughed. 

"Ya," Lambert said pausing. "They did not believe us."

After testifying before the legislature, and after medical professionals testified agreeing with their findings, marijuana laws were changed. And the two students were there as Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval made the changes. 

Since, entities like Nevada Highway Patrol have been using that science. Nevada Highway Patrol shared their findings to show how they're dealing with legal marijuana. 

"There are a lot of things that still need to be worked out," Trooper Travis Smaka said with a laugh. 

One of those things, is still how they test for marijuana DUIs. Trooper Smaka said currently the field sobriety tests are the same as alcohol. 

"These tests have been conducted, and proven, and re-proven and changed and altered for the last 30 to 40 yeas," he said. 

Smaka did not have numbers for marijuana DUIs, but said he hasn't seen any noticeable spike. One thing he has noticed: he said people don't understand just because it's legal in Nevada, doesn't mean it's okay everywhere. 

Trooper Smaka said officers have seen passengers eating edibles. Even if the driver isn't consuming, the driver is charged with an open container violation. He also said because marijuana is still federally illegal, people breaking the law have problems even when they leave Las Vegas. 

"Even though it is legal in Nevada, in terms of college students, if you are a college student and you are getting a federal loan or grant if you get a drug charge you can lose your student loan," he said. "That goes the same for government housing too."

Trooper Smaka said a drug charge could also stop people from being able to purchase a firearm. 

McCarran International Airport has also figuring out how to juggle legal weed. They are on federal mandates, so while people can have pot right down the street, they absolutely cannot have it anywhere at the airport. So the airport came up with a new way to gently remind people of that law.

"What we did is we installed these amnesty boxes. When we first installed the amnesty boxes people were like, 'Oh the airport just wants to steal your marijuana," Christine Crews joked. "No. Quite the contrary. We would much rather you leave it at home. But if for some reason you forget, we do have the amnesty boxes."

Christine Crews, the Public Information Administrator for McCarran International Airport said overall, they have not had a problem. She said there have been a few citations, but no arrests. She said the only citations she knows about come when people are caught with weed and still refuse to throw it away. If people are caught, they could face a misdemeanor charge and then have to come back to Las Vegas for court. Crews said don't think about checking it either, if a bag is randomly searched and marijuana is found, they'll take the weed and mail a citation, and the owner will once again be back in Las Vegas, but for court. 

"Our law enforcement has the discretion to ask people to surrender their items and put the marijuana into the amnesty boxed and 99 percent of the time, these problems work out without issue."

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