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Law enforcement officers prepare to deal with legal pot users

Reported by: John Treanor
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Updated: 3/07 6:55 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) -- Medical marijuana is coming. Soon there could be more patients and easier access to what once was an illegal drug.

With any intoxicant, there's always a danger of people getting behind the wheel when they should not.

State police are getting ready to patrol the streets and stop a new threat.

In states with legalized marijuana such as Colorado and Washington, troopers have seen DUI numbers increase.

The number of people turning to pot to help with sickness or injury is going to increase in the valley. It’s not hard to imagine DUIs will too.

Pot shops or dispensaries on streets in Clark County will become a reality.

"It doesn’t give you an excuse to get behind the wheel intoxicated just because you have a prescription,” said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jeremie Elliott.

Elliott said NHP sees the potential problem and is ready for it.

So far in states with legalized medical marijuana, increased DUI charges follow.

“It’s a substance that will impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle,” Elliott said. “It’s the same as drinking and driving.”

The challenge, however, is there is no breathalyzer for marijuana.

Officers have to rely on field tests, which are the same classic tests administered for drunk drivers. Troopers, however, are also trained in drug recognition.

“We have actually upped our training in drug recognition,” Elliott said.

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