Challenge of marijuana intoxication law goes to high court

The Nevada Supreme Court next week debates whether flaws in Nevada's marijuana intoxication law require overturning the conviction of an exotic dancer who killed six teenagers when she lost control of her car in 2000.

Jessica Williams, 23, was convicted after the jury ruled she had illegal drugs in her system when the accident happened along Interstate 15.

Clark County District Judge Michael Douglas ordered a new trial ruling that carboxylic acid - the marijuana metabolite found in her blood, is not a prohibited substance under Nevada law. He is also arguing her Fifth Amendment rights were violated during the trial because she was subjected to double jeopardy when the jury ruled she was not impaired when the accident happened but was still guilty of driving under the influence.

Clark County prosecutors have appealed Douglas' ruling saying whether or not the marijuana metabolite is on the prohibited substances list published by Nevada's Board of Pharmacy, state law clearly intended to make it a prohibited substance.

The issue was raised earlier by lawyers who argued the metabolite can remain in the blood stream for days and even weeks after the effects of intoxication are gone.

Prosecutors say the question of whether carboxylic acid is a prohibited substance under Nevada law should have been raised at trial, not on appeal.

But Williams' lawyer John Watkins said he couldn't raise it earlier because it was after her conviction when, "serendipitously, defense counsel was informed by the prosecution that carboxylic acid was not a prohibited substance."

"Since carboxylic acid is not a prohibited substance, its use by the state was an unconstitutional theory of prosecution," he argued.

Watkins said there is no choice but to overturn the conviction.

The high court will hear the arguments Tuesday.


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