With House Bill 2700 going into effect on June 9, 2016, it is important to keep DUI clients informed on sentencing and licensing changes. Here are four updates to DUI laws that your clients may need to know. Read more
In November 2012, Washingtonians voted in favor of Initiative 502 (I-502), which legalized the possession of certain amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and older. I-502 also legalized the commercial cultivation, manufacture, and retail sale of marijuana. While I-502 created a legal marijuana economy in Washington, it had no effect on the federal Controlled Substances Act. Should lawyers opt to practice in the ever-changing area of marijuana business law, here are five issues to consider before starting such a practice.
I know you’ve heard it, but it’s worth saying again…
This is still illegal at the federal level
Congress has not removed marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Control Substances Act. That being said, the Department of Justice issued a memo last week with “guidance” that suggests businesses in compliance with I-502 are not high on the list of enforcement priorities. If regulation works, the federal government has indicated that they will stay out of the way. As attorneys, there is a HUGE proviso here. This latest guidance is not binding on local U.S. attorneys and does not eliminate the risk of federal enforcement actions, including prosecution and civil forfeiture.
Corporations are not invisibility cloaks
While a corporate name may give no indication of who its stakeholders are, the Liquor Control Board will perform a full background check on every corporate director and officer and every financial contributor, as well as their spouses. If there is an issue in your history that will make that problematic (with the exception of simple marijuana possession), you should reconsider whether to start the process. Read more
One of the many myths surrounding the passing of Initiative 502 was that for the first time, it became illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. Truth is, it has always been illegal to drive under the influence of any intoxicating substance, whether that is alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, or any other prescribed or illegal drug. The method by which a marijuana DUI is investigated has not changed with the passage of I-502. The only true change to the law is how a person can be convicted.
Prior to the passage of I-502, the prosecution had to prove that the driver “was under the influence of, or affected by” the drug (in this case, cannabis). Washington’s new legislation still permits the prosecution to prove its case in that fashion, but the law has added another prong to the statute by which a conviction can be obtained. The only significant change to impaired driving laws is the creation of a “marijuana per se” impaired driving. This limit, set at 5ng/100ml of blood, provides the prosecution another way to prove an impaired driving case, similar to the .08 grams of alcohol that has become synonymous throughout this country as the “legal limit.” In reality, for both alcohol-based and marijuana-based DUIs, the prosecution can still obtain a conviction even if the person tests under the per se limit — if they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual was “affected to an appreciable degree,” regardless of what level is found in their breath and/or blood.
There are many similarities between an alcohol DUI and a marijuana DUI. However, there are also some differences. Read more