Licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
What Patients Face if They Choose to Utilize and Drive Marijuana Legalized as Medical Treatment
CHEMICAL TESTS In Paragraph 2 of Section 3802(d)2, the Commonwealth is required to establish that an individual was under the influence of a drug to a degree that impaired their ability to drive safely beyond a reasonable doubt. To prove this, the prosecution doesn’t need a chemical test as evidence. To obtain the charge, the prosecutor can acquire a conviction from the testimony of the arresting officer, who can testify to an individual’s physical presentation following their arrest. One hot topic in DUI defense cases is the admissibility of blood evidence. Pennsylvania courts across the Commonwealth began excluding blood evidence even if the individual consented to the blood draw. This choice was made after the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Birchfield v. North Dakota, where the Court realized the police needed to obtain a search warrant to get a person’s blood. Many prosecutors argued that consent eliminated the need for the warrant, but consent for a blood test became virtually unconstitutional following this case, as it violated a person’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. POTENTIAL PROBLEMS FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA PATIENTS When a person who is taking legally prescribed drugs faces charges, they also face a strict liability charge. This means that the Commonwealth only has to establish that the motorist was actually driving or in operation of the vehicle while a Schedule I controlled substance or nonprescribed drug was in their system at the time. A medical marijuana patient is potentially guilty of a DUI if they are stopped for some unrelated traffic offense and the police officer discovers the motorist has used or is currently taking medical cannabis. However, this particular scenario is highly unlikely if the office had no reason to suspect the motorist, unless the motorist informs the officer that they recently consumed medical cannabis under the mistaken belief that it could help explain the reason for the stop. I advise my clients to be respectful of the police but never volunteer any information and never answer any questions the officer poses following the stop. For more advice or information, I recommend visiting my website, where you can download two free books on DUI defense in Pennsylvania.
Governor Wolf signed the Medical Marijuana Act on April 17, 2016, legalizing cannabis as a medical treatment. In a little over three years, the Commonwealth has awarded approximately 25 grower processor licenses and 50 dispensary licenses through the Department of Health.
While this act addressed many concerns about the medical administration of cannabis, those utilizing this treatment must understand that Pennsylvania still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance. Under this classification, patients are still at risk for criminal prosecution under the Pennsylvania traffic code for a DUI of a controlled substance charge. Under the Pennsylvania traffic code, a person may not operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle if there is any amount of substance involved. IMPORTANT FACTS Pennsylvania doesn’t distinguish between legal and illegal drugs or narcotics. Many people may think a DUI charge is specifically reserved for individuals who have consumed alcohol or illegal substances, such as cocaine or heroin. This is untrue. Medical marijuana patients must understand that if they choose to drive while utilizing their legal drug treatment, they risk a possible DUI arrest and conviction. Depending on how severe the charge, punishment can include mandatory jail time, license suspension, fines, and increased insurance rates.
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Gone to the Dogs
HOW CAN A THIEF SUE THE FAMILY HE ROBBED?
food for eight days. When the family returned and found the unlucky burglar, a lawsuit was filed — by Dickson! He sued for mental anguish, and the jury awarded him $500,000. There’s nothing that shakes our faith in the justice system quite like injustice being served. When Dickson’s story first gained notoriety in 2001, thanks to an email circulated by the now-defunct Stella Awards newsletter, which highlighted “outrageous lawsuits,” people were rightfully enraged. There was just one problem: Terrence Dickson never existed. In 2002, a reporter from Pennsylvania contacted the Bucks County prothonotary’s office, where all records for civil cases in the county are kept. He discovered there was no record of any cases involving such a burglar. It’s worth noting the original email where this story first appeared ended with a call for tort reform from a made-up law firm in Ohio. Likely, this hoax was an attempt to manipulate the public perception of the justice system. Despite being debunked 17 years ago, this tall tale still makes the rounds and often appears on lists of “outrageous lawsuits,”many of which are featured on the websites of legitimate law firms! There are plenty of wacky legal cases, but when a story is too ridiculous, there’s a good chance a few important details are being left out or the readers are being lied to. Don’t believe everything you read online!
Have you heard the story of Terrence Dickson? Even if you don’t know the name, you might have heard his strange tale. Dickson was a burglar in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. One day, after breaking into a house and helping himself to some valuables, Dickson decided to leave through the garage. After discovering the automatic garage door was stuck closed, Dickson turned around and was horrified to realize he’d locked himself inside.
To make matters worse, the family he was stealing from had just left for an extended vacation, so Dickson lived off of soda and dried dog
Did You See That? Going stargazing this summer? Be sure to keep your eyes out for unidentified flying objects (UFOs)! July 2 is World UFO Day,
3 FAMOUS UFO SIGHTINGS (BESIDES ROSWELL)
fast-footage , shows the object in the fighter’s targeting system. The pilot and
THE RENDLESHAM FOREST INCIDENT Things got weird at a Royal Air Force military base in England on Dec. 26, 1980. At around 3 a.m., two Air Force members saw odd lights falling into the nearby Rendlesham Forest. They reported finding a metallic object giving off lights and still moving. The object was gone when police arrived, but they found unusual markings at the site. A few days later, more servicemen went into the forest where they spotted three mysterious bright lights in the sky that shone for hours. EAST COAST GO FAST VIDEO In 2015, a U.S. Navy Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighter captured video of a bizarre, fast-moving object that had no visible wings and emitted no heat or no exhaust trail. The video, which can be viewed at COI.ToTheStarsAcademy.com/2015-go-
the weapon systems officer can be heard shouting and asking, “What is that, man?” The video leaked in 2017 along with news of the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), a secret U.S. government organization investigating UFOs. Most UFO sightings have rational explanations. Even the famous Roswell Incident was proven to be debris from a surveillance program the U.S. military used to spy on the Soviet Union. But there’s something to be said about how a UFO sighting makes us look up at the night sky and wonder if we’re not alone.
commemorating the supposed UFO crash that took place in 1974 in Roswell, NewMexico. Everyone knows about the strange things that happened in Roswell, but let’s look at a few lesser-known, but no less strange, UFO sightings. THE FIRST FLYING SAUCER On June 24, 1947, civilian pilot Kenneth Arnold was flying his plane near Mount Rainier in Washington when he reported seeing nine blue, glowing objects flying in a V formation at around 1,700 mph. Arnold would later describe the crafts’motions like “a saucer if you skip it across water.”The government confirmed there were no aircraft tests in the area that day. In the following weeks, other sightings of Arnold’s flying saucers would crop up across the region.
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4 STRETCHES FOR STAYING LIMBER ON THE ROAD
cause your chest muscles to open up. Hold this position for 15 seconds. You can do a similar stretch by bending downward while keeping your hands on your car door in front of you, stretching your entire upper body. FOR THE HIPS While you’re driving, a good way to prevent sore hips is by making sure your knees are slightly elevated above them in your seat. Once you have the opportunity to stop, try doing some hip flexors. Kneel on one knee, slowly push your pelvis forward, squeeze your shoulders back, and open your chest. Hold this position for 15 seconds, then repeat while kneeling on the other knee. FOR THE LEGS To stretch out your hamstrings, place your right heel on a small step. Extend your arms upward, and then lean your upper body forward. You’ll feel a pull in the back of your upper leg. Once you’ve done this for about 15–30 seconds, repeat the process with your left heel. The road may be long, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel it in your muscles. If you stop every couple of hours and take some time to limber up, your body will thank you.
Even though road trips offer you a break from the monotony of your office, the stiffness in your muscles and joints that comes from sitting in one position for too long can follow you onto the road if you’re not careful. Whether in front of a laptop or behind the wheel, taking the opportunity to stretch and exercise on your summer road trip is a great way to prevent the soreness from following you back to the office. Here are a few stretches to keep in mind for the next rest stop. FOR THE NECK Reach your left arm over the top of your head and touch your right ear. Then, gently pull your head to the left and hold it there for 15 seconds. Repeat this process with your right arm. FOR THE CHEST Stand in front of a door frame with one hand pressed on either side and your elbows at 90-degree angles, then lean forward. This will
Mistake of Law Defense
MISTAKE OF LAW DEFENSE AVAILABILITY
Our law firm represents individuals charged with illegal gun and firearm offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey under Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act and New Jersey’s Graves Act. In many of these cases, one of the most common questions we’re asked is if a mistake of law defense applies to the situation. MISTAKE OF LAW DEFENSE Mistake of law is a defense that states the criminal defense misunderstood or was ignorant of the law as it existed at the time. This is much more than asserting ignorance or lack of knowledge; anyone who is charged with illegal possession of a weapon as a prohibited person or with possession of a gun or firearm without a license to carry will require much more.
In New Jersey, mistake of law defense is unavailable unless the defendant can prove by clear and convincing evidence that they pursued all means available to determine their status, the ability to possess a weapon, or whether a weapon is an assault rifle under 2C: 39-1. Remember that in New Jersey, unlike Pennsylvania, a permit is required to possess a handgun or assault rifle, even if your intent is to maintain or keep it in your home or place of business. In Pennsylvania, there is no requirement to obtain any type of permit to simply possess a weapon. Mistake of law defense will be limited in the Commonwealth due to situations where a person believed they didn’t need to obtain a license to carry outside of their home or place of business.
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Utilizing Cannabis While Driving
Did You Hear About the Dog Food Burglar? Going Stargazing? Watch Out for UFOs! 4 Stretches for Staying Limber on the Road Did You Know? 3 Things Everyone Needs to Know Before Swimming in Open Water
Summer Swimming Safety 3 Tips for Swimming in OpenWater
it is. If you cannot confirm what is under the surface (and the spot is not a known diving location), don’t risk it. It may be okay to swim or wade, but jumping is out of the question. Along these same lines, be VERY careful around bodies of slow-moving or standing water. These can house dangerous microbes and other contaminants that can make you ill and potentially be deadly. WATCH FOR RIP CURRENTS These can occur at any beach without warning. They pull swimmers away from shore and are strong enough that even excellent swimmers struggle to get through them. In fact, rip currents are behind nearly 80% of beach rescues. Keep an eye on the foam at the surface of the water. If it seems to suddenly pull away from the beach, there’s a good chance a rip current is lurking beneath. If you find yourself in a rip current, it’s crucial to remain calm and avoid expending energy swimming directly back to shore. Instead, try swimming parallel to the shore until you’re out of the current.
of water with a professional lifeguard on duty when possible, though that’s not always an option. When swimming in open bodies of water, have a “designated spotter” to keep an eye on the swimmers. This way, you’re prepared if anything bad happens. It’s also a great idea to keep flotation devices nearby, such as life jackets, life rings, foam boards, etc. KNOWWHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO Sometimes, it’s next to impossible to see what’s under the surface of the water. If you are unfamiliar with a body of water, don’t jump or dive in without knowing how deep
There’s nothing like taking a dip in a nearby pond, lake, or even the ocean. For many, it’s a summertime tradition. However, swimming in open bodies of water brings certain safety risks, as these environments are not nearly as controlled as public, club, or backyard pools. Everyone should follow these tips to have a fun and safe time cooling off under the summer sun. NEVER SWIM ALONE When you swim in virtually any body of water, having someone there to keep an eye on you can be a lifesaver: the more people, the better. Stick to bodies
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