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CANNABIS COUNTDOWN: What you need to know about driving under the influence of marijuana

Marijuana and DUI: What to know before you get behind the wheel

The clock is ticking as recreational marijuana dispensaries in Nevada prepare to open their doors to the public on Saturday.

Law enforcement officials are warning people who decide to purchase or use pot this weekend about some of the things they need to know before getting behind the wheel.

"Marijuana is nothing new. Marijuana has been around for a long time." Nevada Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Dan Gordon said troopers have a long history of dealing with high drivers.

He said they're preparing for more people driving under the influence of marijuana when recreational sales start this Saturday.

"We know that DUIs are going to increase." Gordon said, "we certainly have the manpower to handle that increase."

He said officers will have their eyes peeled for impaired drivers this weekend, but when it comes to specifically detecting a high driver, "we're not really worried about what is impairing your ability to drive but are you impaired. And the way we determine that is by somebody's driving pattern."

Officers will be using most of the same field sobriety tests for marijuana that they already use for alcohol. NHP troopers may also use a machine that can detect different drugs in your saliva.

Gordon said, "It's either a positive or a negative and it's just going to indicate that there's a presence of marijuana or whatever in the saliva of the mouth. It's not going to give us the amount that somebody has used."

If an officer believes a motorist is driving high, they'll ask them to submit to a blood test. Law enforcement officials can no longer use urine samples to test for marijuana impairment because of a new law passed this legislative session.

"If you refuse to do any kind of testing," Gordon said, "then what happens now is the DMV, you get your license suspended for one year."

So how much marijuana constitutes a DUI? The legal limit is 2 ng/ml of THC in a driver's blood.

Keep in mind, that's pretty low compared to other drugs. For example, the legal limit for methamphetamine is 100 ng/ml.

"We don't have a blanket statement for saying 'Oh you smoke, wait eight hours,'" Gordon explained. "We'll never ever say that. If you've been smoking marijuana, stay away from a motor vehicle. It will impair your ability to drive a lot more than a lot of people think."

It is illegal to smoke marijuana in a moving vehicle, but it is not against the law to use it in a parked car -- as long as it's not affecting anyone surrounding the vehicle in public.

Nevadans will be allowed to carry up to 1 oz. of marijuana plants in their vehicle, or up to 1/8 oz. of marijuana concentrate.

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