After the 2016 elections saw four more states legalizing recreational marijuana for adults, a total of eight states, and the District of Columbia, now have removed criminal penalties for the possession of marijuana by those 21 or older. But with legal, regulated marijuana sales still a year or more away, access to “legal” marijuana can still […]
In the euphoric aftermath of marijuana legalization victories in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada last November, the marijuana blogosphere was alive with predictions about which states would be next to free the weed. But unlike the first eight states, which all legalized it via the initiative and referendum process, for legalization to win this year, […]
FRANKFORT, KY — Industrial hemp legally grown in Kentucky is not considered marijuana. It has only a fraction of THC—or tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive compound—found in marijuana. And state regulators aim to keep it that way. Around 100 pounds of industrial hemp grown under Kentucky’s three-year old Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program were destroyed just three […]
WASHINGTON, DC — Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis have introduced legislation in the House and Senate — to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference. In addition to removing marijuana from the United States Controlled Substances Act, this legislation also removes enforcement power from […]
Since its founding, NORML has advocated that statewide legalization efforts – whether through a ballot initiative or using the legislative process – should ideally include provisions that permit and protect the act of home cultivation by marijuana consumers. This advocacy has resulted in more than 16 states now allowing home cultivation, including in six of […]
3:00 AM EST: Maine appears to have approved Question 1, legalizing marijuana for adults. The measure, which had slowly been losing an early lead all evening, has pulled through with 50.6% of the vote and 87.1% of precincts reporting. Earlier, voters in nearby Massachusetts approved their legalization measure as well. The only defeat of the […]
WASHINGTON — A new poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center shows a growing majority of Americans support ending marijuana prohibition. The national survey of more than 1,200 U.S. adults found 57% think the use of marijuana should be made legal, up from 53% last year and 32% in 2006. Just 37% think it […]
America’s environmental laws have influenced the development of green legislation abroad: China’s Environmental Impact Assessment Law, for example, reflects study of the United States’ National Environmental Policy Act, while Beijing’s recent laws and regulations on public disclosure of information show an understanding of the US Freedom of Information Act. Mongolia developed its national environmental laws with the help of American lawyers. There are dozens of other such examples.
But what about environmental case law in the United States? Are there lessons to be drawn from the wins and the losses for counterparts in the environmental law profession and their colleagues abroad?
At a recent roundtable with Chinese environmental law professionals in San Francisco, a lively discussion developed on the issue of lawyers’ fees and court fees. On first blush, this might seem a minor issue compared to the larger environmental challenges at hand both in China and the United States, but in China, public-interest environmental law is so new that working out who pays for lawsuits is still a critical problem to solve.
In the United States, the rule of thumb (often called the “American rule”) is that each side pays its own attorney fees, regardless of whether they win or lose. That’s a critical reason some famous cases – such as the suit organised by Erin Brockovich against California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company over contamination of drinking water in the southern Californian town of Hinkley – were able to go ahead. (In contrast in England, the risk to the injured citizen of having to pay defendants attorney fees is simply too great and can deter people from pursuing such claims.) Christiansburg Garment Company v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, though not an environmental case, further ensured that when citizen groups lose a case against big corporations in the United States, they don’t have to pay their opponent’s legal fees.
Another key issue for emerging environmental law in China and elsewhere is “standing” – the legal term for the right to sue. In the United States, Sierra Club v. Morton in 1972 was the fundamental Supreme Court case that established standing based on environmental-resource interests. The Sierra Club ultimately lost the case (in which it attempted to fight development in an area near Sequoia National Park, California) but won the war because the Supreme Court decision laid out a clear roadmap for how to successfully establish legal standing-to-sue in future cases. The case established that an environmental organisation could sue not on behalf of the organisation itself, but on the basis of evidence of injury to members whose aesthetic or recreational interests had been damaged.
In 2000, standing issues were further clarified to the advantage of environmental organisations, in particular for pollution cases, as a result of Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Environmental Services. The case was brought against a company that had formerly been polluting a section of the North Tyger River in South Carolina. The case held that the plaintiffs had the right to sue based on the damage to members who would have used the resources recreationally had it not been repeatedly and illegally polluted by Laidlaw. In other words, the case helped clarify that plaintiffs did not need to produce prohibitively expensive evidence that specific particles of pollution produced by the defendant had specific health impacts on its members.
New laws and regulations on the public right to access environmental information, and efforts to ensure there are legal avenues for making challenges on transparency grounds are at a critical proving point in China, and elsewhere. In the United States, legislation such as the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Freedom of Information Act, has provided clear guidelines on how information must be disclosed, and there have been few modifications by the courts.
Prior to the CWA, for example, the United States’ rivers and harbours protection laws required plaintiffs to prove injury to the environment directly from the defendant’s actions. The CWA put the burden on the defendants by requiring them to file regular “discharge monitoring reports”, detailing whether or not they were meeting their pollution-permit requirements, and creating the right for any citizen or NGO to sue for violations. A company’s own reports must show violations of permits, and the CWA citizen suit provisions have allowed citizen groups to hold companies accountable for these violations.
In other areas of natural resource decision-making, however, access to information on US government decisions has been less clear cut. In 2004, the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch sued vice-president Dick Cheney under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) for holding a series of secret meetings with industry representatives, under the auspices of the “National Energy Policy Development Group”. The plaintiffs were concerned that Cheney was attempting illegally to steer the United States towards a backward, carbon-intensive energy policy and felt that broader consensus on energy issues would be better for the country. Ultimately, Cheney was favoured by the Supreme Court on grounds of protecting state secrets. But the plaintiff’s efforts were hailed as an important tactic for exposing Cheney’s back-door manipulations of national energy policy.
Some US environmental lawsuits are useful to reflect upon not necessarily for their outcomes, but for the tactical issues they raised. Since the late 1980s, a long list of lawsuits brought by various environmental interests targeted protection of the northern spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act. These suits first appeared at a time when logging was rampant across the north-western United States, and the cases created a train wreck for the regional timber industry. The environmental side won some of the cases, and lost others. But more importantly, the cases did what the plaintiffs wanted them to do: they greatly raised the profile of the destruction of the nation’s last remaining ancient forests.
The most successful environmental suits in courts, however, are those that are brought as part of a much broader strategy involving public outreach, research, lobbying and other tactics. Environmental lawyers in the United States almost always work in collaboration with environmental non-profit organisations or other citizen groups. One crucial reason for this is that, as president Abraham Lincoln said in 1858, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently, he who moulds opinion is greater than he who enacts laws.” Without public support for a lawsuit, or at least public awareness and concern over the issue it addresses, litigation efforts can backfire. But more importantly, public support is necessary for ensuring that, after a win in court, environmental gains can be sustained over time.
This is perhaps the most important lesson from US environmental case law for new practitioners of green legislation in China and elsewhere, as well as communities and organisations that may seek to bring lawsuits as a means of addressing environmental concerns.
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New laws and regulations on the public right to access environmental information, and efforts to ensure there are legal avenues for making challenges on transparency grounds are at a critical proving point in China,
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Miami, Florida (PRWEB) December 19, 2012
As the dust settles in the weeks following the Presidential Election, Americans are returning to life as usual. Gone are the political ads, debates and polls and most citizens are thankful to that end. However, the leading real estate website, Houses.com is detecting a small yet increasing trend under current in the ocean of politics. There is an amplified interest in the states where medical marijuana can be used without criminal consequences.
The voters in the states of Washington and Colorado have gone a step further and given their blessing to the recreational use of marijuana. Many other states have passed similar legislation that downgrade possession of the drug to the equivalent of running a stop sign. Each state will have different ordinances as to how much you can carry without the fear of facing a judge but, that aside there is a growing trend to legalize the use of medical marijuana in the United States.
The infographic illustrates (in green) the states that have legalized or passed laws allowing either the medical or recreational use of the plant. One eye opener was the increased number of homes for sale searches in New York and Maryland on Houses.com. Several states saw increases in the single digits; the searches in the tiny state of Maryland swelled to a full 14% and a whopping 22% in New York.
There are no hard and fast demographics for these online queries but when most people look for a home they generally have a stable income and the financial means to make the move. Widely distributed studies would lead most to believe it is the teenagers and the early 20s network that use marijuana. For more information, see the recent study by the American Medical Association: http://www.druglibrary.org/Schaffer/hemp/medical/block.htm. Nevertheless, those age groups by and large, don’t have access to the cash reserves needed to make major purchases like a home.
Although the increased traffic is by no means immense yet, the percentages of increases were enough to catch more than a few eyes. Founder and CEO of Houses.com, Richard Swerdlow commented on the recent findings, “The U.S. is traditionally conservative and cautious about the use of marijuana. Looking at the traffic by state breakdown paired with recent legislation on the drug suggests that citizens may want to see that changed.”
The inforgraphic clearly illustrates that the plain states, the Southeastern Seaboard and Southern states, are more conservative in their approaches to marijuana. Many citizens who are in favor of these relaxed measures are predicting it is just a matter of time before all states have some kind of legal verbiage for marijuana and its use.
For more in depth information on this subject read the full article here: http://www.houses.com/Learn/HousingNews/Marijuana-Tolerant-States-Attract-Homebuyers-to-Houses.com. Realtors in these 20+ states may want to keep their eyes on the marijuana legislation in their vicinity. When the topic is brought up in conversation; being prepared to answer client’s questions with an informed and educated voice may be an advantage.
About eReal Estate Holdings
eReal Estate Holdings LLC owns and / or operates the category-defining portals Condo.com, Houses.com, Property.com and Location.com. These real estate portals are the world’s largest online marketplaces for real estate with more than 30 million properties for sale, rent and vacation in the United States and 70-plus countries around the world. The sites receive more than 1.5 million visitors per month, and cost-effectively deliver exposure and qualified leads to builders, real estate professionals and homeowners. In addition to property for sale and properties for rent, site visitors have access to a wide variety of real estate-related products and services, including mortgages, credit repair, home improvement, moving and more. Location.com was launched in beta in November 2012 in order to capitalize on the rapid growth of location-based advertising and search.
The privately held eReal Estate Holdings LLC is headquartered in Miami, Florida. For more information, please visit http://www.erealestateholdings.com.
EAGAN, Minn. (PRWEB) October 08, 2013
Recent landmark legislation in Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana use has heightened the growing debate around pot. Laws and public opinion are clearly moving on the issue; 40 states and the District of Columbia have proposed or enacted legislation surrounding marijuana use – recreational or medicinal – according to WestlawNext, the nation’s leading online legal research service.
The recreational use of marijuana has been the focus of proposed or enacted legislation in 13 states. In regards to using marijuana for medicinal purposes, 24 states plus the District of Columbia have made it legal, while 16 additional states have proposed legislation allowing medicinal use.
Ten states, including New York, currently do not have any proposed or enacted legislation regarding marijuana use – either recreational or medicinal – while Idaho passed legislation reaffirming their stand against the legalization of marijuana.
“As states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, there are still barriers that users may face in understanding the law,” said Michael Carlson, reference attorney at Thomson Reuters. “Marijuana is still considered an illegal drug in the eyes of the federal government and people can be prosecuted if they are caught with marijuana on federal grounds, such as national parks, even though it may be legal in that state.”
Here is a synopsis of proposed or enacted state legislation pertaining to legalizing recreational use of marijuana:
13 states have proposed or enacted legalization, including Colorado and Washington
Three states have commissioned studies to analyze the impact of legalization: New Mexico, Rhode Island and West Virginia
21 is the recommended age for legal use of marijuana across the board
The majority of proposed legislation recommends each state’s Department of Revenue, Department of Taxation or the Liquor Control Board serve as the regulating body
Two states propose creating a new regulatory body: Maine – Bureau of Marijuana Regulation, Licensing and Enforcement; Massachusetts – Cannabis Control Board
Taxation varies amongst proposed legislation ranging from 15 percent in New Hampshire, 25 percent in Nevada and $ 50 per ounce in Maine
The State of Washington limits advertising signage of retail outlets selling marijuana to 1,600 square inches
“The legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington State bring us closer to a tipping point with regard to marijuana prohibition,” said Sam Kamin, Thomson Reuters author and professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. “The groups that have been working for years to legalize marijuana will be taking the issue to more and more states in 2014 and beyond.”
Over the last four years, marijuana has been introduced, substituted or adopted across 4,847 pieces of state legislation. A sampling of legislation for other substances, including marijuana, in 2013 include: hemp (117); peyote (168); cocaine (723); and marijuana (1,730).
The data was researched and compiled through Sept. 22, 2013. All research was conducted via WestlawNext, the industry-leading legal research solution from Thomson Reuters. WestlawNext includes the most authoritative collection of primary law, as well as the largest library of analytical resources and current awareness content.
Editor’s Note: For a high-resolution infographic and additional data, please visit http://www.legalcurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Marijuana_HiRes.jpg, http://www.legalcurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/marijuana-mentions.jpg, or email Jeff McCoy at jeffrey(dot)mccoy(at)thomsonreuters(dot)com.
Thomson Reuters is the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, intellectual property and science and media markets, powered by the world’s most trusted news organization. With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs approximately 60,000 people and operates in over 100 countries. For more information, go to http://www.thomsonreuters.com.