cannabis, Drug-Impaired Driving, Legislative Affairs, medical marijuana, Recreational marijuana

Nevada’s speedy route from cannabis legalization to sales

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Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin July 1st – And An Ounce Won’t be Cheap!

July 1st is the target date for recreational marijuana to go on sale in Nevada, after votes approved a ballot measure in November to make it legal. This has been the fastest turnaround from the ballot box to retail sales of any of the states that have passed similar legislation. The Nevada Tax Commission approved emergency regulations with stricter labeling and packaging requirements aimed at protecting children by prohibiting edibles being modeled after any brand of product primarily marketed to children or bear likenesses of animals, fruits or cartoon characters. Great news for child advocates, but what about adults? Will there be any warnings about the effects cannabis products have on a driver or the consequences of driving impaired after smoking a joint or two? Driving stoned is still against the law – not even passengers can smoke or consume marijuana in a vehicle under Nevada law. A marijuana DUI could land you a fine of up to $1,000, a suspended license and even jail time.

Edibles like brownies and gummies tend to produce a longer and stronger high than smoked marijuana, and new packaging laws in Nevada will reflect that potency. Every edible will be required to have a label warning consumers that it could take up to two hours to feel the high.

The roll-out of marijuana sales will be greeted with a bumper – a crowded field of players jockeying for their piece of a very lucrative pie. First in line, the Nevada Department of Taxation, imposing a 10% percent tax on the sale of recreational marijuana. In Clark County, about 32% percent of what consumers will pay will be taxes that include the 15% percent excise tax on cultivation, rolled into the retail price. Applications were accepted in May for businesses wanting to grow, produce and sell recreational marijuana for licenses that will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell cannabis products to adults 21 and older. Distribution licenses are available to liquor wholesalers, medical marijuana companies and operating medical marijuana distribution companies. It will cost businesses $5,000 to apply for a license, plus an additional fee if the company is awarded a license. Additional fees include:

  • $20,000 for retail stores
  • $30,000 for cultivation facilities
  • $10,000 for production facilities
  • $15,000 for testing labs
  • $15,000 for distributors

 

Then there is the cost of the product to the consumer. According to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol,  when pot sales start on July 1st, the price of an ounce of smokable marijuana will be somewhere in the range of $350 to $450. One ounce of dried marijuana flower produces about 40 to 60 cigarettes.

Only currently licensed and operating medical marijuana establishments in good standing with the state were eligible to apply for retail, production, cultivation and testing licenses. Distribution licenses are available to liquor wholesalers, medical marijuana companies and operating medical marijuana distribution companies. After 18 months, distribution of the product could be open to other distributors.

Here are a few more things to know about launch of recreational marijuana sales in Nevada, courtesy of the Las Vegas Review Journal:

  • Dispensaries must be closed daily from 3 to 6 a.m.
  • Most cities in Nevada will begin sales July 1st. Henderson currently has imposed a 6-month moratorium on recreational marijuana licenses
  • The only difference between medical and recreational marijuana in Nevada will be the price at the sales counter.
  • Medical marijuana prices currently charged in Las Vegas for ⅛ ounce range from about $30 to $60. Several stores estimate recreational costs will be up to $80 for ⅛ ounce, and over $400 for an ounce of higher grade plant.
  • Both tourists and local residents can carry up to an ounce of marijuana and ⅛ ounce of concentrate – the same amount a person is legally able to buy beginning July 1st. However, smoking or consuming marijuana in public, on sidewalks or streets is not permitted, carrying a $600 fine. Marijuana use is banned on all gaming properties in the state. Tourists can’t smoke marijuana in hotel rooms or anywhere on resorts’ grounds.
  • The marijuana industry is entirely cash-based, and credit cards are not accepted.
  • Smoking marijuana will be allowed only in private residences.
  • Complaints about public consumption should be reported to 311 because it is considered a nonviolent crime. Officers will continue to give calls in which there is imminent danger a higher priority.
  • Stores can sell the inventory they have in-stock, but without a licensed distributor, no dispensary will be able to replenish its supply. Dispensary owners fear that they could run out of recreational products in weeks or even days since there is a distribution battle currently in play.

 

Bodily Injury, Car insurance, Crashes and Collisions, Head-on Collisions, Hit and Run, Lane Crossovers, Multi-Vehicle Crashes, Property Damage, Rear-End Crashes, Recalls, Road Hazards, Rollovers, Sideswipe Crashes, T-bone collisions, Tort, Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists

Get the details of a car crash

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Car crashes can be life changing, especially when you or your loved ones are the victims. Watch the various Victim Impact Panel stories on YouTube and you’ll hear the recurring theme – “it happened in a flash”, “we never saw it coming”, “we were driving one minute and the next minute we were hit”…..

Vehicle crashes are usually classified by attorneys as falling into distinct categories: Head-on Collisions, Hit-and-Run, Lane Crossover, Multi-Vehicle Crash, Rear-End Crashes, Rollovers,  Sideswipe or T-Bone Collisions, and Single-Vehicle Crashes. These are descriptive enough for an attorney to follow an established procedure for discovery. It’s a good idea to write down the basics –
          *  When – What was the date of your car accident?
          *  Where – Where did your accident occur?
          *  Who – Who were the other drivers involved?
Were you hurt in the collision? You are not alone. Over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year with an additional 2.35 million injured or disabled. Road crashes cost the U.S. $230.6 billion per year, or an average of $820 per person. Regardless the details, car crashes inflict pain and suffering from injuries, in addition to causing frustration, stress and confusion. Are you properly insured? All states require that automobile liability insurance policies carry minimum coverage, with the average minimum being:
$15,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in any one accident;
$30,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in any one accident;
$10,000 for damage or destruction of other’s property in any one crash.

But are these amounts really enough? Insurance is meant to protect a driver’s current and future assets. If the policy does not provide enough car insurance to cover damages caused by a driver to people or property, there could be legal action to sue for the additional costs. If you think about it, $15,000 for bodily injury may not even cover the cost of an ambulance, emergency room, pharmacy, etc. for a person injured in a traffic crash. If the injured person has medical expenses that exceed $15,000, as is usually the case, it is entirely possible for that individual to bring a lawsuit against you to recover the additional medical expenses not covered by your automobile insurance.

Additionally, most states do not mandate medical insurance for the driver be covered by car insurance. Therefore, if you are injured in a motor vehicle crash and you have inadequate or no private medical insurance, you will be held responsible for all costs of medical care provided to you. Check with your insurance agent to determine whether you should consider adding Medical Payments (Medpay) for treating injuries to you and your passengers without regard to fault. It also pays for treating injuries resulting from being struck as a pedestrian by a motor vehicle.

Knowing the extent of the injuries resulting from the crash will be helpful for the attorney guiding you through the claims process. Any medical documentation is good to have. Consider the aftermath of a car crash – piles of medical bills, missed work, the insurance paperwork – all very time-consuming and costly. Auto insurance in itself is quite complicated. All states regulate the insurance industry, and many offer policyholders coverage options, for example, choosing full tort or limited tort. What is the difference? Full Tort allows a person to sue for pain and suffering. With Limited Tort, an insured forfeits the right to compensation for pain and suffering. Typically, Limited Tort offers you a small discount on your monthly premium. But buyer beware – when you are injured in a car crash, saving a few dollars a month on car insurance doesn’t come near to being sufficiently compensated for the emotional and physical suffering of a crash, which can be life-changing and stay with you for a long time after the incident.

Don’t forget the police report. Most states require a police report for traffic collisions, especially those involving injury or death. These types of police reports are public records, so request a copy. Were there any witnesses? If so, try to collect their contact information. What about auto defects? Every year, vehicle safety features get more advanced in their design to prevent injuries. But these products often fail — consider the recent recall of 85 million Takata air bags. The problem was centered on aluminum nitrate, the chemical compound used to inflate air bags. When exposed to moisture, drastic temperature changes, or age, aluminum nitrate can break down and become unstable, leading air bags to explode, sending pieces of metal into cars, injuring their drivers and passengers. Those explosions led to significant injuries including bone fractures, lacerations, traumatic brain injuries and blindness. Vehicles made by 19 different automakers have been recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side, or both in what NHTSA has called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.”

Other factors to consider when documenting a vehicle crash include road defects.  There are many road conditions that could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and crash, including objects on the road, ice/snow/black ice, confusing signs or lack thereof, potholes, steep shoulders (drop-offs), unsafe work zones, pooling water that can lead to hydroplaning, windy roads with no lines, and wheel ruts. Documenting these defects can be time-sensitive, as evidence might disappear with a change in the weather or repairs being completed.

Review Your Auto Insurance Coverageinsurancepolicy_edited-1

Buying a new policy? Updating an existing one? There are recommended minimum coverage for auto insurance that covers Tort (pain & suffering), Bodily Injury Liability, Property Damage Liability, Medical Expense Benefits, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Coverage (UM/UIM), Roadside Assistance, Missed Work and Funeral Benefits. Having the proper insurance coverage might result in a slightly higher premium, but it will save you thousands when you need it most. Speak with your insurance agent about adjusting your deductibles if you are worried that your monthly premium will be too high.

Of particular importance is the UM/UIM coverage that applies to the driver, as well as family members living in the same household, in the event of a car crash. UM/UIM coverage will help pay for the costs related to accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers whether you are a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or the victim of a hit-and-run. According to a 2014 study by the Insurance Information Institute, 12.6% percent of American drivers had no insurance. The most recent data from the Insurance Research Council show higher estimates – a little over14% percent of the driving population is uninsured. Nationwide, there’s about a 1-in-8 chance a crash will involve an uninsured driver, with a 1 in 5 chance of finding an uninsured motorist on the road in six states. Recommended minimum coverage limits are $100,000 per person / $300,000 per occurrence. With these limits, UM/UIM can help pay for medical bills, pain and suffering and property damage.

Remember, you can change your car insurance policy at any time – just call your insurance agency or agent – before the unexpected happens.

Child Endangerment, Hot car deaths

Hot Car Alert – Greenhouse Effect Kills

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Leaving a child or pet alone in a car is a health hazard that may result in death, even if parked in the shade of a tree

It is never a good idea to leave a vehicle unattended, and in some states it is actually against the law. In Florida, for example, “a parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child younger than 6 years of age may not leave the child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle for a period in excess of 15 minutes, or for any period of time if the motor of the vehicle is running, the health of the child is in danger, or the child appears to be in distress.” Any person who violates these provisions commits a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable by a fine not less than $50 and not more than $500.

What are the consequences when these behaviors result in death? On June 9th, two toddlers in Texas were intentionally left in a locked car for 15 hours while their mother and boyfriend partied with friends. Amanda Hawkins, the 19-year old mother, was charged with two counts of abandoning or endangering a child. Two weeks prior, two children in Ft. Worth died in a hot car incident after their mother reported them missing. The 2-yr old was found in a locked car holding the mother’s cell phone and car keys. Back in Florida, a 2-year old died in March of this year, after being locked in a car for five hours by his 21-year old half-sister while she went to work at a daycare center. No criminal charges were filed.

Illegal or not, you should NEVER, EVER leave a child alone in a car. It is a health hazard that may result in the death, even if parked in the shade of a tree. Don’t be fooled by the shade – the inside of a vehicle can increase precipitously even when not directly exposed to sunshine. A CNN video explanation of the greenhouse effect that takes place inside a parked car might be the awakening some parents need to understand the dangers rising temperatures pose on people and pets left in an unattended vehicle. Even a mild 70 degrees can turn into a scalding 90 degrees in a car with closed windows after just 10 minutes.

Vehicle_Temperatures_chartHow long does it take for the temperature to rise inside a car? This chart compares the temperature inside and outside a car, at 10 minutes and at 30 minutes lapse in time:

From 1998 to 2016, there were 700 U.S. heatstroke-related deaths of children left in cars. So far this year, KidsAndCars.org reports 11 hot car deaths. An examination of media reports shows the following circumstances:

  • 54% – child “forgotten” by caregiver
  • 28% – child playing in unattended vehicle
  • 17% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult
  • 1% – circumstances unknown

The inside of a vehicle heats up very quickly as a result of “The Greenhouse Effect”. Even with the windows partially rolled down, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes, as cracking the windows does not help slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature. Much of the increase in temperature – 80% – happens during the first 10 minutes of stopping the car. An additional contributing factor focuses on the rate of overheating – a child’s body overheats 3‐5 times faster than an adult body, and children have died from heatstroke in cars in temperatures as low as 60 degrees.

Hot vehicles are the primary non-crash, vehicle-related killer of children under 14, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children under the age of 1 are the most common victims, according to Kidsandcars.org. More than half of those who left children alone in vehicles did so unknowingly. Other reasons cited: the child got into the vehicle on his or her own (32 percent), child was knowingly left in vehicle (12 percent) and circumstance unknown (2 percent). The Department of Earth and Climate Science at San Francisco State University monitors hot-car deaths, citing many attributed to heatstroke as the cause of death – about 60 percent of non-crash-fatalities in children under 14. Researchers there found that since 1998, the annual average of juvenile deaths in cars has been 38. While the majority of heatstroke deaths in cars occur between June and August, deaths have been recorded for every month besides January over the past 16 years.

dont leave best friend

The same applies to pets –16 states have specific “hot car” laws with statutes that specifically prohibit leaving an animal in a confined vehicle. In many states, however, there are no hard-and-fast rules on the legality of leaving a dog unattended in a vehicle, although offenders can (and frequently do) face animal cruelty charges. In Las Vegas, the legal definition of “leaving a cat or dog unattended in an automobile” prohibits people from leaving a cat or dog alone in a “parked or standing motor vehicle during a period of extreme heat or cold or in any other manner that endangers the health or safety of the cat or dog.” Imagine the effect temperature rises demonstrated in the chart above has on an animal with fur and without water! Because leaving your pet alone in a car is a misdemeanor in Nevada, owners are looking at up to 6 months in jail, and/or up to $1,000 in fines. By committing this crime, you not only face fines and jail, but law enforcement can legally confiscate your pet, sell it or kill it by putting it down humanely.
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Resources
Fatal Distraction Pulitzer Prize winning article by Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post

How We Can Protect Children From Dying in Hot Cars Editorial