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The Supreme Court for the state of New Jersey, in an opinion released last week, just changed the way judges in the state will sentence most juvenile offenders. The opinion, which actually decided two criminal conviction sentencing appeals, centered on whether a juvenile should be sentenced to life without parole for a non-homicide related crime.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that not only should juveniles not get life without parole, they ruled that sentences that are in essence, life without parole, (i.e. 75 year sentences) are functionally the same thing as a life sentence.

There are some who consider cannabis to be a gift from god. But when it comes to legalization, the devil is in the details. As laws on marijuana cultivation, possession, and sale continue to evolve, they may still differ from state-to-state and they remain in conflict with federal law. So trying to figure what is and what isn't allowed can be its own challenge.

Take, for example, California's new marijuana laws, which allow for recreational use for the first time. So who gets to grow all the green the Golden State's residents will be toking? And are there limits on how much cannabis you can cultivate?

When someone overdoses on drugs, the most important thing a friend can do is call 9-1-1. Unfortunately, because of the drug laws in many jurisdictions across the country, the friendships of hard drug-users are put through life-or-death tests when one friend overdoses.

Because of the potential for being arrested for using or possessing drugs, fellow drug users often fear calling 9-1-1 to report overdoses. This, in turn, results in needless and preventable overdose deaths. However, a majority of the states give individuals, even drug users, limited immunity for calling to report a drug overdose. Even if your state doesn't provide immunity, it is not guaranteed that you will face charges if you do the right thing and call 9-1-1.

In a majority of states, you will not be arrested if you report a drug overdose while in possession or high on drugs yourself. However, in most, if not all, jurisdictions, a person that supplies the drugs to a person that overdoses is likely to face more than just drug charges. As one Portland man discovered last year, he was sentenced to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter after a friend overdosed on heroin that he provided.

The governor of Vermont, who signed the bill into law in the state to decriminalize marijuana possession, has just issued 192 pardons to individuals convicted of marijuana crimes. The pardons, which were all for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, also required that the offenses not be in relation to a DUI charge or violent crime. However, the pro-pot governor decided that issuing pardons for these pot convictions would be one of the last things he did before leaving office.

With the populace's shifting mentality towards marijuana legalization across the country, these pardons make sense. After all, the state law in Vermont provides for decriminalization, which means that possession of marijuana should not even be a criminal matter anymore than a traffic ticket is. Unfortunately, many people still have criminal records for offenses that, today, would not even lead to a criminal record.

Vaping is here to stay, apparently, and those seeking electronic means to get their nicotine fix have been running into a confusing, and at times conflicting, set of laws and regulations. It seems that e-cigarettes and vaporizers arrived on the scene at the exact moment lawmakers were cracking down on tobacco-based cigarettes, and legislators hadn't given much thought to regulating their electronic brethren.

This has left vapers with a lot of questions when it comes to puffing prohibitions, so here are a few answers:

The results of a recent study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health is creating high hopes for states with medical, and recreational, marijuana laws. The results explain that states with medical marijuana laws report fewer traffic fatalities than states without them. There is an across the board average reduction of 11 percent fewer traffic fatalities.

While the study could not reach this conclusion, a senior author on the study suggests that the lower fatality rate could be associated with the substitution of marijuana for alcohol among younger drivers. Additionally, researchers found that drivers in states with medical marijuana have lower rates of drivers who believe driving after drinking is okay. This study in no way suggests that driving under the influence of marijuana is safe, or even a safe alternative to driving drunk. Driving while high on marijuana can still lead to a DUI, or worse.

Drivers in California need to be aware of the new cell phone law that just recently took effect in 2017. The new cell phone law prohibits all drivers from simply holding a cell phone or other electronic device (such as a GPS) in their hand while driving. If an officer sees a driver holding an electronic device, they can be pulled over and issued a ticket. A first offense will be at least $20, with subsequent offenses being at least $50.

While many drivers may find these laws to be overbearing, the end goal is not to torture drivers, but rather to reduce distracted driving accidents. According to California's Office of Traffic Safety, cell phone use is the number one cause of distractions on the road, and nearly 80 percent of all crashes involve driver inattention.

Freedom of speech has its limits, and some speech can be considered criminal. Fraud, threats, and lying to the police can all land you in jail, so deciding what expression is legal and what is not can be a difficult exercise in line-drawing.

So where does providing "emotional and legal support" to people who choose to end their own lives fall on that spectrum? On the criminal end, according to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which upheld the conviction of a national right-to-die group for assisting in a woman's suicide in 2007.

After two botched executions in 2014 of an Arizona inmate, and an Oklahoma inmate, much public attention was brought to the issue of what drugs are administered to execute death row inmates. After the two-hour long execution, Arizona's attorney general temporarily halted all other executions in the state, and a court order keeps the temporary ban in place until the order is lifted. While the two-hour long execution was successful, the inmate struggled, grasped for air, and moaned in pain during the process, which evidenced that the anesthetic, midazolam, was not working properly.

A problem for many states, like Arizona, that seek to execute death row inmates is the availability of humane methods. Drug manufacturers, while usually more than willing to make a sale, generally do not want their product to be associated with the death penalty and have made their products difficult to obtain for death penalty states.

Despite the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaporizers, neither can be used on a plane. Recent regulations passed by the federal government went into effect this year officially prohibiting e-cigarette use or vaping. Additionally, because of the risk of fire posed by e-cigarette batteries, they are not allowed to be charged on planes.

Prior to the regulations, each individual airline had an independent policy prohibiting it, which was backed by a federal regulation allowing airlines to enact their own policies that don't conflict with the law. The penalties for violating federal aviation regulations can be extraordinarily severe.