In mid-May, Nevada lawmakers passed bill AB135 and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed, creating a new law that will change the standard for DUI testing for marijuana impairment thanks to the dedication and hard work of two medical students.
Graham Lambert and Charles Cullison, Touro University Nevada medical students, provided integral research and information to lawmakers to change from urine testing to blood testing as the primary assessment for those thought to be driving under the influence of marijuana. Lambert, a former Petty Officer and Avionics Specialist in the United States Navy and Cullison, a native Nevadan, recently completed their second year of medical school and will soon begin clinical rotations as third-year students. Both are pursuing their medical education as part of the military’s Health Professions Scholarship Program and will be commissioned as active duty officers at the end of their medical training.
During a medical jurisprudence class, the two students seized the opportunity to perform research and enter the annual American College of Legal Medicine (ACLM) poster competition. Lambert and Cullison worked diligently to research the laboratory testing methodology evaluating cognitive impairment while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. Their research and recommendation that Nevada adopt a blood test for marijuana impairment while driving a motor vehicle earned the first-place award for best poster at ACLM’s national competition.
Lambert explains, “Our research focused on the testing methods used to presume cognitive impairment from marijuana use, as it pertains to Nevada Revised Statute 484C.110. We found urinalysis testing for the presence of THC-COOH to be entirely inappropriate; these tests should be replaced with a blood test only, for delta-9-THC and 11-OH-THC. This project was a meta-analysis of multiple peer-reviewed research articles, medical toxicology texts, and lectures, as well as interviewing the toxicology labs of the Henderson Police Department, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Washoe County’s Sheriff’s Office.”
The research led to the conclusion that Nevada Revised Statutes, NRS 484C.110, governing marijuana and marijuana metabolite urine testing was inconsistent with sound, accepted science. Nevada Assemblyman Steve Yeager learned of the students’ research and it prompted his introduction of AB135 in the 2017 Nevada Legislative session. Both students testified in Carson City and in Las Vegas to the Legislative Judiciary Committees. The bill won the support of many interested parties, including the Nevada District Attorneys Association and the Nevada Public Defenders Association.
“Testifying before both the Nevada Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees was an exciting experience for both of us,” said Cullison. “We will never forget the experience of working with Assemblyman Steve Yeager. He understood our message from day one and made sure we were included in every step of the process, from bill drafting to the bill signing.”
AB135 passed both Houses of the Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Sandoval who hosted the two students at the signing ceremony in the Governor’s Office in Carson City. The bill passage came just weeks before recreational marijuana becomes available for sale in Nevada. Barring any delays, up to one ounce of marijuana can be legally sold for recreational use in Nevada for the first time beginning on July 1 to those 21 and older as a result of Question 2 passing in the fall of 2016. Even though possession of marijuana became legal Jan. 1, businesses did not have approval to sell recreational marijuana.
“We are very proud of what Graham and Charles have accomplished with their research,” said Dr. John Dougherty, Dean of Touro’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. “Touro University Nevada encourages students to address health policy issues and dedicate themselves to making a positive impact. It is an important opportunity for them to learn that evidence based medicine can influence legislation such as this and has the potential to create positive change not only in Nevada but nationwide.”
About Touro University Nevada
Touro University Nevada (TUN) is a private, non-profit, Jewish-sponsored institution established to help address critical needs in health care and education and as a resource for community service in the state of Nevada. TUN opened its doors in 2004 and is home to a wide variety of degree programs including osteopathic medicine, physician assistant studies, education, nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy. The university’s Henderson campus includes a multi-specialty health center and a multi-disciplinary Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. For more information on TUN, please visit www.tun.touro.edu or call 702- 777-8687.
About the Touro College and University System
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 18,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has 30 campuses and locations in New York, California, Nevada, Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College; Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus; Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division; as well as Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: http://www.touro.edu/news/.
For media information, please contact:
Mandi McCary / Dana Gifford
702-277-7107 / 702-219-0530