6 Key Notes to on Edge in Personal Injury Case

There is an assurance that one accrues losses once caught up in an accident or injury, but what must be reassured or prepared to is the security of lessening such losses or winning the case, against the perpetrator or accused causing such injury to victim. Now, we would like to give you twelve (12) simple key notes to know when under such situation or dilemma. According to Everett, L.C., (2012), in her book Personal Injury Lawsuits & Settlements, there are twelve (12) important notes to know about a personal injury case, but here, we will only cite six (6). These are:

1. Seek an expert and efficient lawyer or law firm that can handle your case.
Unless you can dwell on the legality of your case, you can exclude hiring a lawyer/attorney who is an expert in dealing with a personal injury case. 2 things to consider: experience and winning record of the lawyer in similar cases. Make sure to make personal inquiries or calls to lawyers or a law firm such as LG Law Firm who are also known for their work as a bankruptcy attorney ontario ca. Consider checking the law firm’s records of wins and their best lawyers.

2. Remain calm and lessen your actions once you find your lawyer.
Your personal injury lawyer takes over your case, and makes sure to keep you on track with the case’s status, or when you are needed for some legal support. Experienced lawyers will work on your case independently upon retrieving substantiated information from you.

3. Your lawyer may work on a contingency and consider forming billable hours.

The meaning of contingency based-acceptance of a case by lawyers is that you, as a client, are not expected to pay anything until the case is won and received award or settlement payments. On the contrary, when the lawyer lost the case, you only owe small office fees.
Additionally, as to the billable hours, your attorney must work enough billable hours to be paid, to keep their office/firm running. The attorney may be working in many nin-contingency clients, but at the same time is working on your case.

4. Expect to put out some cash from your pockets in the duration of the case.

Make sure that you are financially prepared to pay some small office bills out-of-pocket, even if you are a contingency client. The costs may be delayed until the award is received, or that the office/firm may send you billings monthly for certain documents or legal-related matters on your case.

5. Time is going to be consumed before the case’s completion and payment.

It is best to always produce best evidence through a thorough investigation, for this is essential in the chances of winning the case. Such time required for investigation and researching is lengthy, especially that your lawyer has other clients other than yours, in need of the same competence and efficiency from the lawyer.

6. Settlement is very likely in personal injury cases.

It is 99% of the time that personal injury cases end early, prior to court hearings due to settlements. This is ultimately the best or win-win solution for both the defendant and plaintiff. Aside from shortening the case time, the plaintiff is most likely to receive the defendant’s payments. Such settlement payments can be made in lump sum amounts or over time, in an incremental payment method.

Now that you have read the six (6) key notes we highly recommend for you to be cautious about these points, and that these may eventually help you or remind you about how you can effectively be at an edge or ultimately, win your personal injury case.

Alcohol Addiction and Drunk Driving Accidents

Anyone who drives after drinking alcohol to the point where their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels go beyond the usual 0.08% limit has a very high likelihood of getting arrested for a DUI.

Worse, they could get involved in a drunk driving accident and end up hurting themselves, their passengers, and other people. If they survive the crash, they are going to need a DUI attorney by their side because they are going to face a criminal case that has the potential to turn their lives upside down.

These could happen to people who don’t drink often or too much. Now imagine how bad things are going to get if the one behind the wheel is someone who consumes a lot of alcohol and does it as frequently as he or she can.

The problem with alcohol addiction

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 88,000 people die alcohol-related deaths in the United States alone. NIAAA also says that over 15 million American adults have a drinking problem.  Alcohol addiction or alcoholism is a growing problem not only in the US but the whole world as well.

Alcoholism is a form of drug addiction that takes a heavy toll on its victims. Unlike casual drinkers, alcohol addicts drink to excess and often have no control over their overwhelming desire to drink. They tend to drink first thing in the morning, and typically end their day with a few more drinks. Alcoholics tend to drink alone, too, and they don’t mind. Even when their drinking is already causing problems with their relationships, they would still be unlikely able to control it. And if you ask them about their drinking, their reaction will likely be one of anger and hostility.

The long-term physical effects of alcohol addiction are numerous. The liver, for example, will always be badly hit by excessive alcohol consumption. Cirrhosis, cancer, and hepatitis are just some of the illnesses of the liver that alcoholics are more than likely to suffer. Other chronic diseases that alcoholism can bring about include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and digestive problems.

Alcohol can also cause a disruption in the brain’s communication pathways. As it affects the brain’s neurotransmitters, alcohol also slows down the transmission of information. These effects on the brain often result in memory loss, seizures, and depression.

For alcoholics, their heavy and long-term drinking can also cause their brain cells and their overall brain mass to shrink, which would directly affect their cognitive functions as well as their mood, sleeping patterns, and motor skills.

Alcoholics have no business driving

Casual drinkers who get behind the wheel after a drink or two are already dangerous enough. With alcohol affecting their vision, concentration, reflexes, and motor skills, they are already at risk of causing a drunk driving accident. When it’s an alcoholic that’s in control of a vehicle, then the chances of an alcohol-related car crash taking place becomes a lot higher.  In all likelihood, the deadliest car crashes in history were caused by drivers who were more than just casual drinkers.

Substance abuse assessment programs for DUI convicts

It might be hard for authorities to detect an alcoholic on sight, but once a person gets convicted of DUI in most states, they are made to undergo substance abuse assessment programs.

These programs aim to determine if a person has a drug or alcohol problem. If the interview by a licensed or certified substance abuse counselor and the results of the structured assessment questionnaire DUI convicts are required to answer reveal that they indeed have a substance abuse problem, then they will be recommended for professional treatment programs.

While these treatment programs may not be guaranteed ways of getting rid of alcohol addiction completely, they at least give alcoholics a chance to get their lives back on track, and become responsible drivers once again.

Drunk Driving Facts That Will Change Your Life

Addictive drugs are, by nature, dangerous. We all know what hard drugs like crystal meth, cocaine, and heroin can do to our bodies and our lives in general. These illegal substances can wreak havoc on addicts and their families as well. Over the decades, so many people have died of accidental overdose, and this continues to happen despite massive government campaigns against illicit drugs.

However, none of the misfortunes attributed to heroin et al. can hold a candle to the misery that one particular drug has visited and continues to visit upon countless people. Worse, of all, this drug is legal and can be brought at your neighborhood store once you’re of age.

The drug in question is alcohol, and it’s the world’s most dangerous addictive drug. It is responsible for so many deaths due to cardiovascular disease, liver disease, cancer, and pancreatitis. Alcohol also triggers violent behavior, giving rise to countless homicides.

Then there’s drunk driving, which has led to countless unfortunate road accidents, many of which have claimed people’s lives. Yet people still drink and drive and end up getting stopped for a DUI or worse, wrapping their car around a tree.

Let’s take a look at some drunk driving facts, which we could only hope people wouldn’t ignore.

Drunk driving is a crime

If you’re not worried about drinking and driving because you believe it’s something you can easily get away with, then someone lied to you. All states consider driving under the influence or DUI as a crime, and as such, it comes with consequences like jail time, probation, and hefty fines.

If it’s your first DUI, then you might just be slapped with a misdemeanor. However, you could be facing felony charges if your drunk driving hurt or killed someone. Jail sentences for people convicted of a felony are longer, and the fines are steeper.

Drunk driving can burn a hole in your pocket
To give you an idea of how costly drunk driving can get, car crashes caused by intoxicated drivers cost an estimated $52 billion a year in the United States alone.

And if you get arrested for a DUI, know that its cost can also drive you to the poorhouse. On top of the litigation costs and the heavy fines that come with a conviction, the court can also order you to pay for damages which could become sky-high. The jail time you will have to serve also means you won’t be able to work, and the lost wages will make it even harder for you to raise the money to pay for the fines and the damages.

A person dies in a drunk-driving crash every 50 minutes
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA, drunk-driving accidents in 2016 have claimed the lives of 29 people on a daily basis. That’s one drunk-driving death every 50 minutes.

Less than 0.08 BAC doesn’t mean you’re not impaired
If your blood alcohol concentration or BAC is at 0.08 or above, then you are considered legally impaired in most states, and you will most certainly be arrested if police officers stop you on suspicion of drunk driving.

Most people would take that to mean that if their BAC is below 0.08, then they aren’t impaired and should go on their merry way. The truth is, studies have shown that even a BAC of only 0.02 can already affect a person’s driving skills. You may not get arrested for a DUI in some states when your BAC is below the legal limit, but you could still figure in an accident because of your impaired driving.

We could only hope that the facts above would make you think twice about driving drunk.

How Does Substance Abuse Affect Divorce Proceedings?

Substance abuse is never a pleasant phenomenon. When it occurs within a family, it can cause deep and serious divisions, as well as permanent damage if not dealt with effectively. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people end up divorcing substance abuser who can’t or won’t change their ways. In many cases, this is the best thing to do, however painful, as it limits the chances of serious harm coming to other family members (either physically, psychologically, or both). If you’re divorcing or considering divorcing a partner, and substance abuse is a factor, here’s a quick guide to what you can expect from the law:

Fault Grounds

In the past, it used to be the case that one partner could only divorce another if there was provable ‘cuplability’ – i.e. the divorcee had palpably broken the contract of marriage via adultery or some other such misdemeanor. Now, however, people can get non fault-based divorces on the grounds of ‘irreconcilable differences’. This tends to be the easiest and most amicable option available, and is thus popular with divorcing couples. However, it does also require a degree of agreement and cooperation, which can be an issue when substances are in play. Most - although not all - states still allow the old-style fault-based divorces, which let one partner divorce the other, citing the fault of their partner and extricating themselves from the marriage with or without their partner’s consent. Of course, this kind of thing does have the potential to make an already harrowing situation more traumatic, but it’s worth noting that, in cases where substance abuse and associated issues (violence, for example) are cited, the sober partner tends to get the upper hand. Which may not seem like an important factor to consider, but where things like custody of children need to be considered, it can actually be crucial.

Child Custody

Substance abuse is a very important factor to consider when child custody is decided. Even if the non-sober spouse is repentant, and has agreed to go through safe, medically supervised withdrawal, many partners may be wary of their reverting to their old ways – particularly if repenting and relapsing occurs in a pattern. As such, it’s important for legal teams to hear details of the addicted partner’s history with substances, however painful it may be to bring out these revelations. As parental substance abuse is known to seriously affect not only parenting ability but child development, courts tend to look closely at substance abuse issues within a divorce and custody case. Unless the sober parent has some other serious parenting impediment, courts tend to award custody to the sober parent. However, this does not mean that the substance abusing parent never gets to see their children. Courts will work out visitation rights carefully, often (circumstances depending) allowing liberal visitation rights if the addict parent is committed to sobriety (and sustains this commitment) – albeit with certain safeguards put in place. If an addicted parent vows to get sober, courts may incentivise and enforce this by ordering that the parent in question checks in at rehab, or AA, or NA, at regular intervals. Failure to do so will result in loss of visitation rights. Sometimes, medical checkups may be required for visitations to occur. Should an addicted parent be deemed a danger to their children, however, most courts will have no hesitation in severely restricting or outright banning access.

Property Issues

The division of property will only be mitigated by substance abuse if the abuser’s behavior demonstrably had an effect on the couple’s finances. For example, if the addicted partner depleted the marital estate in order to fund their habit, the courts may award a larger share of jointly owner property to the sober spouse as a form of compensation. However, this is by no means guaranteed, and greatly depends on the inclination of the court.

Emotional Issues

By far the most challenging aspect of a substance abuse-related divorce is the emotional aspect. Many people believe that they are ‘abandoning’ or ‘failing’ a substance abuser by divorcing them, leading to awful feelings of guilt - even when the situation has become not only untenable but dangerous. It can be a very painful wrench, which brings up a whole host of negative emotions. Emotional resilience and coping with the psychological fallout of this kind of thing is tough, and may well require professional help. Any good law firm should be more than aware of the trauma this process can cause, and go to some lengths to make the process as clear and pain-free as possible for you. However, it is always a good idea to surround yourself with a strong support network, and perhaps seek psychological aid in these cases nonetheless.

Exploding E-Cigarette Batteries: Legal Situation and What to Do

In 2015, a man from Texas sued a vaping device retailer for $1 million after its battery exploded in his pocket, causing burn injuries to his scrotum and thighs. This is not an isolated incident and is not the only lawsuit being filed against vaping battery manufacturers. Nor is it limited to the United States with similar incidents happening across both Canada and the UK, as well as in other countries.

 Lawsuits Based on Defective Products

For David Powell, the cause of his injuries were a pair of lithium batteries bought as part of a purchase from Vixen Vapors a few days previously. The explosion, he was only wearing cargo shorts at the time, sent shrapnel laced scathing hot liquid into his groin area causing damage and second degree burns. Speaking to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last year, his lawyer stated that Powell, an ex-Marine, felt like “sparks were shooting from his crotch.” He ended up spending 4 days in a specialist burns unit as a result.

 John Ross, Powell’s lawyer based his case on “unreasonably dangerous” products made in China for Vixen Vapors which “failed to conform to the applicable design standards and specifications.” In their counter argument, the company stated that it tried to educate all customers on “proper use and storage.”

Damage and Your Rights

Between 2009 and 2014, there were 25 incidents involving e-cigarette batteries, which were reported in the media. Many more have gone unreported. Not all led to burns as suffered by Mr. Powell, but other incidents have led to the damage and destruction of property. Overs have suffered more damage such as a 15 year old boy who lost half a dozen front teeth, while other teens have had severe burns after vaping pens caught fire.

It’s expected that the 2009-14 figure of 25 is woefully below the real total. Furthermore, e-cigarettes have increased in popularity over the last two years. With the use of lithium-ion batteries, which overheat when the cigarette is charging, there is little surprise that accidents are happening. The resultant damage to person and property has given legal firms a good basis to represent clients in lawsuits for damage against the person and other property.

Currently, the U.S. legal system is focusing on the FDA’s research into the health consequences of using e-cigarette devices as  a means of smoking. This means new regulations will relate to the carcinogens and toxins inhaled with each puff of smoke, nicotine quantities and so on. Federal regulators are not looking to set rules for batteries. However, legal avenues exist along the lines of damage to the person and goods as mentioned above, fair expectations of a safe product, quality, and related topics.

If your e-cigarette battery does explode, you should:

1. Retain all evidence including receipts, packaging, the batteries themselves, warranties and receipts for any other property damaged by the explosion, and other related paperwork.

2. Get names and contact information for any witness

3. Photograph the injuries, get paperwork and documentation from your hospital and health insurer.

4. Ascertain whether there were any CCTV or surveillance in the area where the incident took place.

5. Talk to a public liability attorney.

How to Avoid the Problem in the First Place

Of course, nobody wants to be stuck in this kind of situation in the first place. That’s why it is important to follow some simple, basic steps to protect yourself as an individual when using e-cigarettes. To achieve vaping battery safety, you should ensure your batteries are wrapped correctly and the wrap is not torn, and not doing anything which might destabilize your batteries like leaving them loose in a pocket, not storing them in a case, not leaving them in a hot car, or in direct sunlight at all, and do not leave them unattended when charging.

Ethic Rules Gone Wrong: Good Deeds Getting Punished in Minnesota

A Colorado licensed lawyer is facing the prospect of losing his bar license for the unlicensed practice of law in Minnesota. Only, he’s not practised law in the state at all or even visited his so-called clients within the state. Instead, he seems to have fallen victim to an overzealous state judiciary and an opposition lawyer with a late, late finding of a moral compass.

Let’s rewind and see what happened. The unnamed Colorado lawyer’s in-laws lived in Minnesota and had a problem with debt collection. With 30 years of practicing law in Colorado under his belt, the lawyer agreed to help them by emailing opposing counsel to try to resolve the dispute.

At first, the opposing counsel tried to get assurances that the Colorado lawyer was licensed to practice in Minnesota, which he was not. However, the lawyer said he’d retain local counsel should the dispute come to court. Over a 6 month period, they exchanged a dozen emails before the opposing counsel notified the lawyer that he’d be filing an ethics complaint. No action has been taken against the counsel for taking so long to file the complaint, but it can only be assumed he was losing the argument or needed time to find enough precedent to file the complaint.

This has led to a dispute between the Colorado Lawyer and various reviews and courts within Minnesota as to what constitutes practising law in the state. For the record, the Colorado lawyer never left the state to practice law, only conducted emails, and did not step foot in any court as part of the debt collection dispute.

However, as far as the Minnesota Supreme Court is concerned, he violated legal ethics and practised law in Minnesota just by emailing someone regarding a legal matter within the state. This flimsy finding was backed up by Birbower v. Superior Court whereby a New York lawyer was found guilty of practising law in California despite not living there. However, the difference is that Birbower visited California several times to meet interested parties in his case, unlike the Colorado lawyer who remained in his own state.

The Minnesota legal system has now set a dangerous precedent whereby relatives of interested parties who happen to be lawyers licensed in other states cannot consult or attempt email arbitration with opposition lawyers for fear of being disbarred.

 

The Legalities and Finances of Office Lighting

The rules and regulations surrounding light bulb usage are changing. These changes, like so many others, are not uniform around the world, but unique to each country or region. There are active legislative processes in Canada and the European Union to ban certain types of bulbs, while in the US there is a slow moving process to make bulbs more energy efficient. All the while, the LED light, the most efficient of all, is marching ahead of legislators. Here is a quick overview, for the business owner, where legislation currently stands.

The United States

Legislation to deal with lighting regulations and changes in light bulb laws have varied from state to state and have included federal decisions on the subject. Initially efforts came from California, Connecticut and New Jersey to limit or phase out incandescent light bulbs. Federal efforts date back to 2007 with a plan to make incandescent light bulbs more energy efficient by setting maximum wattage limits. Federal legislation is aiming to limit light bulbs to 45W, which is similar to the average CFL bulb by 2020. No legislation has been passed yet which would make incandescent bulbs illegal.

Canada

The process to change light bulb usage in Canada began in 2007. This ran on a provincial level, first with Nova Scotia and then Ontario. Later that year the federal government moved to ban all incandescent light bulbs by 2012. The spur was greater energy efficiency and environmental impact. In 2011, the changeover was delayed until 2014, but there would be a ban on importing inefficient incandescent lighting and using either 75W or 100W bulbs. In 2015, the ban was extended to 40W and 60W bulbs.

UK and European Union

The phasing out of incandescent bulbs began in 2007 with the aim, across the EU of banning sales of the bulbs by 2012. The one loophole included in legislation was that they could be sold for industrial usage from specialist stores, which were accessible to the normal, commercial or residential customer too. Since then the European Union has set a new target of 2018 to phase out halogen bulbs. This would leave CFL bulbs as the preferred option across the EU, which has drawn much criticism from groups who dislike the bulbs, find them dim or too harsh.

Problems with the CFL Bulbs

CFL bulbs are smaller versions of the strip lighting found in most shops and offices. According to studies published by the National Association for Adults with Special Learning Needs (NAASLN), strip lighting and CFL bulbs have been linked to the triggering of ADD/HD, dyslexia and poor achievement. Other studies have looked into concentration and productivity levels in offices while Dr. Miriam Rafailovich, speaking to Men’s Health, has found that if fluorescent bulbs are kept close to the person, they emit UV radiation levels far in excess of human tolerance – releasing in 45 seconds the maximum a human should be exposed to in 8 hours.

The Energy Efficient LED Bulb Solution

As countries legislate away from incandescent bulbs toward CFLs, the free market and technology is moving far in advance. LED bulbs are not new, but have until recently been limited to torches and flashlights. While people could purchase LED bulbs for their homes, the initial purchase price was thought to be too high to tempt many into making that change. However, now that production and sale costs have been reduced, there are LED price calculation applications available to make a reasonable comparison.

These are not limited to residential properties however. Price comparisons can be made for commercial properties too and soon industrial ones – the one sector where incandescent bulbs can often still be used. It appears, with LEDs being up to ten times more energy efficient than traditional bulbs including both Halogen and CFL bulbs, that a switch in market will be happening in advance of further legislation.

If this is the case, then investing in LED bulb retrofitting whether in the US, Canada or indeed the UK, seems the way forward for businesses. Legislation will eventually catch up with the bulbs, and if initial evidence seems likely LEDs will not only save money on utility costs, but may provide a more productive working environment for staff as well.

 

An American Made Double Standard on Labor Rights

The overwhelming majority of Americans buy products made in sweatshops or countries with poor or next to no worker’s rights or health and safety. This is not a conscious choice in most cases, and in many, there is no choice at all. Electrical products are made or put together in China, food comes from Mexico, clothes from India or Southeast Asia. Even when products come from American companies, they’re not necessarily made in America. So, should American companies be allowed to ignore American laws and rights when manufacturing in another country?

Different Rules

Every nation has the right to set its own rules when it comes to labor, health and safety, and environmental standards. The world has not come close to enforcing universal standards on all nations to ensure workers are respected, well renumerated or protected from toxic substances. Many developing countries such as China and Japan have looked the other way or purposefully enacted weak labor protection laws in order to drive down the cost of their products and bring manufacturing work to their country.

American Products vs. Made in America

You might feel that you can find safety in American products – those made by American companies with our flag. However, many products are made cheaply overseas by companies, are bought and rebranded by American companies before being sold here at a normal price. Many other American products are just simply made overseas to save money on labor costs. The costs to the environment and for transportation being smaller in the mind of the company than labor in the US. Made in America products are genuinely made in this country and under the laws/regulations and ethical/moral standards of this country.

The Only Ethical Solution

The only solution, baring congress forcing companies to adhere to US law overseas as a minimum standard (in Europe for example, labor laws are often stronger than here), is to buy made in America products. This not only means that the workers manufacturing your products are well looked after and paid, but also that the quality of the product you are using is known and approved. As Liberty Tabletop say, “we often worry about the quality of the food we are putting into our mouths, but how often do we stop to think about the tool we are using.” The same thought could go to the electronics we use, the clothing we wear, the furniture we sit on and the automobiles we drive. Companies like Intel, Crayola, Pyrex, KitchenAid, Liberty and Wilson Footballs are all made in America brands.

 

Study Shows Half of US Law Firms Failing to Maximize Online Sales

A study by UK based, international marketing agency Palladous, showed that half of East Coast Law firms had neglected basic strategies, such as completing their online profiles, and were missing out on sales and business as a result. In Greenwich Village a shocking 4.4% had completed all the essential steps to maximize their online presence.

With 85% of local customers finding businesses in their area using the internet according to a survey published on the Yelp blog, dating back to 2012, and more recent estimates putting the figure at closer to 90%, there’s no doubt that the slice of the market available to those businesses pursuing offline only strategies is shrinking. Some recent estimates put the 2015 figure at closer to 90%.

Despite this, many law firms, retain traditional marketing strategies that become more expensive and less effective over time – consumers drive past billboards while their passenger scrolls through Facebook, they grab their tablet device when the TV commercials run, or fast forward past them entirely with TiVo.

The study by Palladous revealed that just over half of law firms hadn’t even undertaken the basic steps to complete their online presence and get the best results. The worst performing region was Greenwich Village where just 4.4% had taken the time to complete their Yelp profile, and even the best performing region – Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, saw a full third of firms without complete profiles.

Steve Brownlie, Consulting Director at Palladous, had this to say: “Ask a litigation lawyer what they would use a magic wand for, and the common answer is – get me more clients – but many fail to actually do the basics right online, enabling those clients to find them.”

Completing online profiles on these online sites can lead to outsized returns on time and money invested for law firms as many of the platforms offer free registration for a standard page. The most popular are the Google Local listing driven by their Google My Business product, and Yelp, but business owners should also claim and fix as many of their listings as possible.

Use of video, compelling text and photos wherever possible is another way to increase the lead generating power of these sites. They give the opportunity to have another presence on the web showcasing the law firm, partners and location.

Once the profiles are set up, reviews become one of the key factors in determining how successful an individual law firm’s presence will be. There are a number of products to help law firms become more organised with achieving reviews such as Get Five Stars. This allows business owners to navigate happy customers to the main listings sites to leave feedback, but capture negative feedback for the immediate attention of the owners. This allows firms to build a positive public image, and rebuild relationships with unhappy customers – combining to deliver stronger growth, as well as better customer retention.

Reviews have been shown to influence buying decisions of up to 90% of online searchers. Law firms without complete profiles on sites such as Yelp, and Google My Business, are less likely to secure these valuable reviews, and therefore less likely to secure future business from those sources.

Successful law firms should not, naturally, look to scale back on their already successful marketing activities, whether they are on or offline, but they should constantly evaluate where their money and time is being invested to ensure they take advantage of newer opportunities. When the barriers to entry are so low on most of these platforms, and the powerful impact they’re shown to have on nine out of ten consumers, it makes sense to take the online marketing of a law practice seriously.

Could Paul’s Marijuana Bill Redefine Federal-State Relationships?

Today three senators are planning to introduce a Senate Bill that could have a major effect on the Federal-State relationship. The bill seems innocuous enough at first glance, Rand Paul along with Corey Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand want to prevent Federal officers from prosecuting marijuana users in states where it has been legalized.

This bill could have more importance, legally, beyond the realm of either medical or recreational marijuana use because it reasserts the right of state law to trump federal law in the United States. Many laws in the Anglo-American world are set on precedent, once it happens once – such as with this law – others may follow. In short, this brings back to the fore the 10th Amendment, which is rarely invoked against federal law, but reads:

‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.’

The Current Situation

Currently, 23 states have passed laws by popular mandate – as voted by its citizens during an election/referendum – to legalize medical marijuana. Two further states have legalized recreational marijuana use. However, due to international treaties and laws on drug use, federal law still makes the use of and selling of marijuana illegal.

The consequence is two-fold. Firstly, people who smoke pot for medical reasons in the 23 states and those who use it recreationally in the two states are at risk of prosecution by federal agents if they do what state law allows. Thus far, prosecuting such people has not been on the federal agent agenda. Secondly, it makes it impossible for people who sell medicinal pot or recreational pot, where legal, to do so through bank accounts. The filing of federal taxes may also be difficult to say the least.

Potential Roadblocks

The bill’s passage is not guaranteed and it may be amended prior to passing through the Senate and being sign by the President. With that in mind it is impossible to guess how the law will work and how it will affect the state-federal relationship. If passed, it would give states primacy over an element of law – what drugs can and cannot be used or how they can be used. It suggests that such a change could lead to others.

There is a strong undercurrent in the Republican party to do the opposite of Rand Paul’s proposed bill. That would mean using federal law to go after marijuana users and sellers where it has been allowed under state law. That would be the opposite of a libertarian state arrangement, but consistent with centralized federal law. It would also need bipartisan help from the Democrats to get through. It is possible, therefore, that the bill is a gambit by Ron Paul to put his name out there to get the libertarian vote in the upcoming race to be nominated as a presidential candidate. However, if it is genuine, it could be an interesting rediscovery of the 10th amendment and a step back from federal control.