The State of Marijuana in America

Times are changing. The legalization of marijuana is something that many would have never dreamed of in the past, yet now many states are legalizing marijuana — and not just for medical reasons.

This leaves the United States in a bit of a confusing limbo. Some states in the United States have strict rules punishing the possession of marijuana, while some states have more relaxed regulations. Even more confusing is the conflict between state and federal law, which has deemed marijuana illegal. Someone using marijuana in a state where it is legal could find themselves abiding by federal law, but

I took some time to research online to educate myself about the current state of marijuana legalization in the United States. I figured a lot of you may be curious as well, so I decided to compile all the information I gathered into a blog post! Check it out!

Decriminalization vs. Legalization

Many people when discussing the legalization of marijuana, and the legalization of drugs in general, often use the terms decriminalization and legalization interchangeably. This is a mistake, however. Decriminalization and legalization of marijuana are not the same things.

Decriminalization means that the criminal penalties of related drug charges are swapped with much less severe civil offenses. More than likely, if someone is caught with marijuana when it is decriminalized, they will have to pay a fine rather than face jail time.

Legalization means that there are no penalties — civil or criminal — for having marijuana in your possession. When marijuana is legalized, the state in which it is legalized can regulate and tax the sale of it.

Make sure to understand the difference when reading about the marijuana laws in your state. You don’t want to accidentally believe that marijuana has been legalized in your area when it has only been decriminalized — you may still end up paying a fine!

Current State of Marijuana Legalization in the United States

States in which marijuana is fully legal include California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine.

In these states, you can use marijuana recreationally and face no criminal or civil charges. Of course, usually one has to be 21 years or older to do so. Some other states have decriminalized marijuana and allow it for medical use. You can check out the particular laws in your state here, on the Powderly Law Firm website.

What to Do…

If you’re caught with marijuana in a state in which it is not legalized or decriminalized, the first thing you should do is contact an attorney. An attorney is well-versed in the defenses needed to help you get your case dropped and the penalties you may be facing reduced.

Don’t let the embarrassment of a marijuana charge convince you to represent yourself. Don’t accept any deal without talking to an attorney first. Plus, an experienced defense attorney likely has connections to the prosecutors in your area and can help you reach the best possible outcome in your case.

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Lost Leads, Explained

I had never met a lawyer until I became a college student. Maybe it was my humble beginnings or just subconsciously tuning out people who wore suits, but I never really knew much about the legal profession. I just assumed that it was boring work, dealing with papers and stamps or topics like liability and statutes. The one exception, in my mind, were the lawyers on shows like Law and Order or Drop Dead Diva. Those television programs always had exciting courtroom action, with dramatic revelations and plot twists for days.

Recently, though, I have become more interested in the legal profession; there is something to be said about fighting for justice. And even for lawyers or paralegals who do not fight for justice, there is something to be said about earning a living by using your brain! I definitely think that being a lawyer and even dealing with “boring” topics is something I could see myself doing in the future.

However, practicing law is a whole business in itself. As I said, I have not given the idea of law much thought in my life, but I recently found through research the different aspects of a business that lawyers must deal with in order to make a living. One issue is “lost leads.” Lost leads are potential clients that a law firm introduced themselves to, but business never came to fruition.

Potential clients can include a client that was interested in the firm being placed on retainer but never followed up for some reason. Another “potential client” could be a party with a specific suit in mind that is not relatively time sensitive; if they have not already contracted another firm, they are a lost lead that could come back to the firm if someone reaches out to them. There are other types of clients that could be considered “lost leads,” but the term fundamentally comes down to a client that is reachable but was not acquired.

People involved in the legal business are smart cookies, so the fact that there are companies dedicated to improving law firms or increasing client retention came to no surprise after I started researching issues like lost leads, one business brands themselves as legal conversion experts because they are so talented at taking potential clients, lost leads, or other forms of business for a law firm, and converting them into successful customers. Their website’s testimonials speak for itself, so I trust that they are experts!

Entire businesses, like the aforementioned experts, are built around helping lawyers — often by people without a law degree! They are just talented at building out business for law firms through being contracted out to answer a firm’s phone calls, speaking with clients in other languages, and scheduling casework. Other marketing work, or activities related to earning more customers, including responding to potentially interested customers from web advertising or cold calls.

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What happens if Social Security cancels your benefits?

Five years ago, a 22-year old Knoxville woman was granted benefits by a Social Security administrative judge, who determined that the woman was disabled and was unable to work anymore. Nina Rouse was granted Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, and was allowed to collect Medicaid. While those benefits were granted to her and she was allowed to collect them for several years, a review conducted by Social Security eventually determined that she was no longer disabled and her benefits were revoked. How can the Social Security Adminstration do that? How can they simply tell someone that they are no longer disabled? Per federal law, benefits are reviewed periodically after they have been granted, and in Nina Rouse’s case, the SSA determined that she was no longer disabled and she received a notice saying that her benefits were ending. Nina would like to work, but finds herself unable to do so due to a digestive system defect that she has had from birth. She was forced to have her colon removed along with part of her esophagus, which causes breathing problems, problems with digestion, and immediate access to the bathroom at all times. She cannot stand for long periods of time, and cannot walk long distances. She used to be able to work, holding down jobs at a fast food restaurant and movie theater, but she says she can no longer work. She had all of the documentation to be granted total disability benefits by the SSA in 2012, but unfortunately found the benefits revoked during the routine general review this year. Fortunately for Nina, the SSA does allow individuals to appeal this decision, and if you respond immediately, you may be able to retain your benefits during the appeals process. If your benefits have been revoked like Nina’s, you do have legal options. The best thing to do is immediately hire a Social Security Disability lawyer to help fight for the benefits you deserve. You can hire an attorney to help explain your legal options, discuss the best course of action, and assist you with the appeals process. Being denied benefits is not the end of the world, although, for many disabled people, it may feel like it. You have the right to take action to prove that you deserve the benefits that you were initially granted, and a knowledgeable attorney can help make sure that you get the benefits that matter so much to you and your family. Don’t despair if you receive a notice from Social Security canceling your benefits. It is not the final straw, and you may be able to fight to get them back. We researched attorneys, and there are lawyers who have extensive experience handling them.

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School Fieldtrip Ideas for Middle Schoolers

Middle schoolers are not that young anymore, so they may not find simple trips away from the classroom exciting and engaging. Since they are somehow big and mature enough already to pseudo-handle themselves, the school fieldtrip planner in you can be a little more creative.

Amusement Parks

This age group can still be highly energetic, but the good thing is that it doesn’t require super closer supervision anymore. These kids can now handle amusement parks. But don’t just focus on the rides. It will also be interesting to know how the amusement parks operate, so make sure to contact their management to get an arranged tour.

However, it is important to point out that these kids may still be reckless, so supervision may still be required to avoid accidents.

Botanicals and Wildlife

Botanical gardens, greenhouses, aquariums, sanctuaries, and zoos are always good choices when you are considering nature trips. The good thing is that the kids can learn about different kinds of plants and animals while avoiding the dangers of being out in the wild.

It is a win-win situation. Students get to learn something new, explore things that may be foreign to them, and stay safe – all at the same time.

Museums

It cannot be stressed enough that learning and adventuring are the two main aspects of school fieldtrips. If you don’t really feel the vibe of nature, you can opt for arts and history. There are many museums across the country that focus on different subjects, not just arts and history, but also science and technology.

Since the kids are already quite grown, they can be safely divided into groups. After all, it is not like there are many dangers that can be found in museums.

Transportations

Learning should not be strictly tied to sciences and arts, because they can also come in the form of new experiences. According to the website of the Anita Dee Yacht Charters, a yacht can be customized for social events, like school outings.

But experiencing a unique transportation option is not just the way to learn. The students can also learn about the operations of different transportation methods. You can opt for airports, train stations, and even the post office just to know how they get stuff done in there.

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Long-term Disability Coverage

In many instances, injuries or illnesses are diagnosed to have long-lasting effects, thus, causing long-term disability. This type of disability can cause a person to miss work for about six months or more. For employees, before they can avail of their long-term disability benefit, they are first expected to avail of their sick-leave (with pay) privileges and then the short-term benefit (if this has been made available for them by their employer), which usually lasts for six months.

Long-term disability benefits cover a part of the injured employee’s salary, about 50% – 70%; duration of benefits usually lasts 5 or 10 years, while others last until the insured employee reaches the age of 65 (duration actually depends on the plan purchased).

Full payment of the long-term disability coverage may either come from the employer (the traditional practice) or the employee. Newer trends, however, sees employer and employee sharing the cost of the plan.

To become qualified for the long-term disability benefit, an employer ordinarily requires that an employee has rendered service for a certain duration of time, is a full-time employee and renders at least 30 hours of service per week. Although sustaining this type of disability will definitely affect an injured employee and his/her family’s financial situation, many claims get turned down, not because of failure in qualification, but due to technical issues, such as failure to fill-out a claims form correctly.

The long-term disability attorneys of Fields Disability understand how long-term disability insurance helps to take care of you and your family if you are ever injured or become disabled and can’t go back to work for weeks, months, or even years.

When an insurance company offers you a long-term disability policy, they make you the promise of covering you in the event of illness, injury or mental condition – for the years you can’t work. When the time comes that you need to avail of the benefits, however, they find ways to deny your long-term disability claim.

Sad, but true, insurance companies are out to protect their profits, not your best interests. Long-term disability benefits applications are often denied and many people give up because of the strict guidelines applicants must follow. Having a disability claims attorney, who knows how the system works, may be able to help make sure that your application is accurate, complete, and submitted on time.

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Dangerous Materials in the Workplace

Dangerous Toxics and Materials in the Workplace

There are jobs out there that have dangerous conditions and equipment, making employees at risk of injury or disease. In the injury aspect, workers may sustain head and brain injuries, shoulder and back injuries, hip and pelvic injuries, because of a variety of reasons, such as slip and fall accidents, equipment malfunctions, and overexertion. Some of these complications even require surgery or legal help, such as the shoulder replacement lawsuit attorneys of Williams Kherkher.

But aside from the physical strain, there is a much more dangerous aspect at work – exposure to chemicals, toxics, and other substances that may have negative effects on the body. Below are some of the common dangerous materials that can be found in the workplace.

Asbestos

Asbestos has once been used as a fire retardant in buildings and residences, but it has been discontinued because of public pressure. But because of exposure to asbestos can potentially lead to the generation of cancer known as mesothelioma, the construction workers before are at risk. Other workers that may be at risk of mesothelioma include automobile mechanics, demolition workers, firefighters, and shipyard workers. The issue is serious enough to warrant the need for a mesothelioma cancer lawyer.

Benzene

Benzene is a chemical compound that is naturally found in volcanoes and forest fires. It is a known carcinogen, meaning that it can cause cancer, especially on long exposures. This compound is not just found in nature, but also in the industrial world. It is found on motor vehicle exhausts, gasoline stations, and burning coal and oil, so those who are frequently exposed to these things, like employees, are the most vulnerable to benzene exposure. Exposure can have varying results, from simple drowsiness to even death.

Perchlorate

Perchlorates are salts that easily dissolve into water. They most common perchlorates include magnesium, potassium, ammonium, sodium, and lithium, and they are most commonly found in explosives, fireworks, and rocket motors. Those who are most at risk of perchlorates are those involved in the said industries. But even if you are not involved in these industries, you may still be at risk, especially if you live near rocket test sites. Exposure to perchlorate does not cause cancer, but it can cause issues to thyroid activity, resulting in problems involving the skin, skeleton, and bodily systems such as the reproductive system and nervous system.

To avoid injuries and illnesses in the workplace, it is best to always follow safety regulations, wear protective gear, and be cautious of your surroundings. Knowing the dangers of these materials gives you a step forward in entirely avoiding workplace accidents.

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Minimum Wage and Overtime Threshold in New York

Minimum Wage and Overtime Threshold in New York

In the recent past, New York has recently made headlines after increasing minimum wage and the overtime threshold. Starting December 31, 2016, the minimum wage in New York City will be $11 for large companies and $10.50 for companies that have less than 11 employees. For Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester, it is $10. For the other counties in New York, it will be $9.70. Fast food employees even have it better. In New York City, the basic minimum hourly rate is $12, and $10.75 outside the city.

Despite the different increases, the goal is to make minimum wage to $15, and these different kinds of workers on different places in New York will reach that goal in different time periods.

In New York City, the minimum wage for large companies will increase $2 annually, meaning that it will reach the $15 mark on 2018. The minimum wage for companies that have less than 11 employees will have a $1.50 annual increase, resulting into a $15 minimum wage on 2019. For Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester, minimum wage earners will have a $1 increase until the minimum wage turns into $15 in 2021.

Though fast food employees have a better start in the race, they will not go over $15. In New York City, fast food employees will get a yearly increase of $1.50 until the minimum wage clocks in at $15 on 2018. For the fast food workers outside New York City, there will be monumental increases up to 2021, where the minimum wage also stops at $15.

The overtime threshold, or the threshold in which an employee is no longer eligible for overtime pay, has also increased, making more and more people eligible for overtime. The increase will also be implemented on December 31, 2016.

In New York City, the new threshold for large companies will be $825 and $787.50 for companies that have less than 11 employees. For Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester, this threshold will be set to $750, and $727.50 for the rest of New York.

For New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester, this threshold will increase annually until it reaches $1,125. The rest of New York will also experience the same increase, but it will only culminate into $937.50.

These increases ensure that New Yorkers are properly compensated, both in wage and overtime. It is also a good thing that New York has lawyers who specialize on unpaid wage and overtime, such as those in Cary Kane, LLP. The law is on the side of employees, so don’t be afraid to step up if you are not meeting these new increases.

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Alcohol and Drugs on Driving

Negative Effects of Alcohol and Drugs on Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances that may have negative effects on the body is a crime, because being impaired while on the road puts you at greater risk of committing mistakes, and we all know that a single act of negligence can already trigger an accident, injure somebody, and destroy a property. Negligence is defined as failure to exercise care. Carelessness and negligence are enough grounds to bring a driver to court.

But what exactly are the negative effects of alcohol and drugs on drivers, and how do these effects trigger drivers to commit mistakes?

Limited body coordination

Driving requires the efficient coordination between hands, feet, and eyes, and if one of these factors are compromised, you may be in for a traffic accident. Failure to coordinate bodily functions may also be a sign of limited comprehension and concentration skills, resulting in more problems. The intoxicated driver may fail to comprehend traffic signs or concentrate on the road and his lane.

Limited sensory information

Being under the influence limits a driver’s sense of sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touching. These senses can be particularly important in driving, particularly sight. If a driver has impaired vision, he is putting himself in greater risk of collisions with obstructions like road signs and trees, other vehicles, and pedestrians. He will also have a hard time perceiving traffic signs and lights, and road curves and turns.

Overconfidence

An often overlooked effect of alcohol and drugs is the fact that they can potentially make drivers more open to stunts and other reckless behaviors like speeding, weaving between lanes, turning sharply, and overtaking without regard to the others around them, and generally disobeying traffic rules. This puts not just the intoxicated driver in danger, but also the others around him who may fail to react on time to his reckless tendencies.

Getting injured in a car accident, particularly because of a drunk driver, is always a terrible experience. But it is a good thing to know that driving under the influence is against the law. The only thing we should worry about now is the proper implementation of the law to deter people from driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

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Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable people on the road. Unlike car and truck drivers, motorcyclists, and other motorists, they are not enclosed in metal and they do not have protective gear. When they are involved in a collision, they absorb most of the force. This may result into injuries, and on some instances, even death.

According to the website of the Milwaukee personal injury attorneys of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, pedestrians who have been injured because of negligent drivers have legal options to pursue. It is good to know that the law is on the side of the victims. But pedestrians should also make the effort to avoid accidents.

Make sure that you are visible
Many pedestrian accidents happen because of low visibility that results from inadequate lighting or dark clothing. To avoid such accidents, avoid dark areas and dark-colored clothing. If possible, wear light-colored clothing and reflective materials and bring flashlights with you if crossing in dark areas is inevitable.

Look before you step
The obvious safety tip for pedestrians is following traffic rules. Cross only on marked crosswalks and intersections. Look left and right before crossing, even if you have the right of way, because you will never know when a reckless driver is going to show up.

Don’t expect vehicles to stop
Even if you have the right of way, always be wary of moving vehicles, because they might not stop for you. This is especially true for drivers who are distracted, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and want to run through a red light or stop sign.

Be mindful of your surroundings
Different environments pose different levels of risk of pedestrian accidents. If you are near parking lots or parking spaces, be cautious of vehicles. If you are crossing in an intersection, watch out for turning cars. You should also avoid distractions that may compromise your focus on the environment, such as mobile devices and headphones.

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Counter-arguing Charges of Impaired Driving

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired (DWI) are serious traffic crimes that refer to driving while impaired by the effects of either alcohol or drugs (illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs). Some states use DWI and DUI interchangeably to refer to the same crime, others, on the other hand, differentiate between the two, using DUI to signify lesser intoxication.

In all U.S. states the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level limit is 0.08% (this is usually reached after consuming about four regular bottles of beer within an hour). A driver who registers a 0.08% BAC level will be considered alcohol-impaired and charged with DUI or DWI (if his/her BAC level is higher than 0.08%).

Impairment, which is the effect of alcohol and the real root of danger for both the (impaired) driver and all others on the road, is the primary reason why drinking and driving are strictly prohibited under federal and state laws. While this may be a legally acceptable reason to apprehend and charge violators, the overzealousness of some enforcers has, in a number of instances, resulted to the unreasonable arrest of many individuals.

An enforcer or any police officer has the authority to stop a driver suspected of being impaired; he also has the authority to require a driver to perform sobriety tests, like standing on one leg or walking in a straight line, and even submit to a breathalyzer test.

Though professional-grade breathalyzer devices, like those used by law enforcers for roadside alcohol testing, are believed to be highly accurate and sensitive, there are important factors that enforcers need to consider when using these on suspected drunk drivers:

1. These breathalyzers require periodic calibration in order to maintain accurate readings; failure to calibrate these on regular basis can affect BAC analysis.

2. Breathalyzers can definitely measure alcohol which is present in alcoholic drinks; however, it will also give measurable BAC readings if one consumes food cooked in alcohol, or uses substances that contain (even small amounts of) alcohol, like toothache medicines and mouthwash.

3. Acetone, which is detectable in the breath of those on high protein diets and diabetics, and other compounds that have a molecular structure similar to alcohol, may result to BAC readings. Besides these, adhesives, plastics, varnish, paint fumes, and cleaning chemicals with rubbing alcohol, can also produce false BAC results.

According to Columbia DUI defense lawyers of Truslow & Truslow, no matter the offense, criminal charges at any level should be taken seriously. This is because a person, who has been charged with, or is under investigation for, a crime can suffer serious prejudices in life even after he/she has already served his/her sentence. Thus, whether a case would be heard in a Municipal, Magistrate, State, or Federal court, having a dedicated and qualified criminal defense attorney to defend his/her case may save him/her from getting convicted and his future from getting ruined.

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