Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Recently in Legislative Oddities Category

Can Cannabis Be a Religious Sacrament? Judge Says No

The First Church of Cannabis in Indiana saw their lawsuit go up in smoke. The church, which claims that their congregation uses marijuana in a sacramental manner to grow closer in love to one another, sought to get a religious exemption to the state's marijuana laws under Indiana's Religious Freedom and Reformation Act (RFRA).

Though officially a recognized church by the state and the IRS, Judge Jude Sheryl Lynch of the Marion County Superior Court ruled that the church could not smoke marijuana as a religious sacrament.

Maybe you're a LARPer or a fan of Renaissance Fairs. Maybe you're an engineering or history student, studying the effectiveness of various siege weapons. Or maybe you've got a neighbor with high walls and a penchant for playing their music too loud.

Either way, if you're looking to launch a projectile a great distance (without the aid of explosives), you might be wondering if you can build your own catapult, trebuchet, or similar siege engine without interference from the fuzz. Here's what you need to know.

A magic tricks (or "illusion" if you prefer) ceases to be magic if the audience knows how it works. And the trick ceases to be valuable to the magician who invented it if other magicians can just steal it.

So what kind of legal protections do magicians have against the exposure or theft of tricks illusions? Not many.

Smoke While Walking Should Be Banned, Says NYC Council Member

At this point, everyone knows the dangers of smoking cigarettes. While some people choose to smoke knowing the risks, others are exposed to the risks -- and the smells -- without a choice. One Democrat in New York is trying to reduce non-smokers' exposure to cigarette smoke by asking the New York City Council to ban smoking while walking.

In the inimitable wisdom of Indiana lawmakers, 16 and 17 year olds can consent to have sex with adults, but they cannot receive texts with naked images of those adults. And in the inimitable wisdom of the Indiana Supreme Court, the absurdity of these conflicting laws can't save a teacher from a sexting conviction.

It's just the latest example of sexting legislation gone wrong.

Courts and the law have long held sympathy for a man who finds his wife or girlfriend cheating on him. There were once exceptions to murder statutes and lesser penalties for a man who discovered his wife "in flagrante delicto" and lashed out violently. While those laws have either been formally removed or are no frowned upon by courts, some states still allow a jilted husband to sue a home-wrecking party.

One such lawsuit was recently revived in North Carolina, where a man is suing a doctor for an affair with his nurse wife.

There is often the conception that once we own land, we can do whatever we want with it. Sadly for some landowners, there are regulations, restrictions, and responsibilities placed on land use, which can exist at the local, state, and federal level.

Most, if not all of these regulations come from two often competing interests: conservation and agriculture. Those interests, along with one man's desire to build a house, are colliding in Northern California, where a turkey farmer is suing over a county ordinance he claims will force him and his family to farm his land in perpetuity.

The State of Michigan is considering passing a bill that would remove protections for police officers that have sexual intercourse with sex workers during prostitution investigations and stings. The bill was unanimously passed by the state senate, and now must pass through the house and be signed by the governor.

Support for the bill is rather strong, particularly as Michigan is the last state in the country to still have this type of immunity for officers on the books. Proponents of the bill explain that the immunity from criminal liability for officers having sex with an alleged sex worker during a prostitution investigation further victimizes sex workers, who are frequently the victims of pimping or human trafficking.

In the state of Oklahoma, the legislature is considering a bill that is affectionately being called the 'Flying Pig Bill.' And while some might think based on the name that the bill has as much chance at passing as a pig has at flying, that's where they'd be wrong.

Unfortunately, no pigs will be flying or taking off if this bill passes. The name is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the bill is actually proposing to allow hunters who go after feral hogs to hire helicopters and other aircrafts to use for aerial hunting. While it's not an activity the typical person is willing to spend one or a few thousand dollars on, for some, shooting feral hogs out of a plane, helicopter, or even a hot air balloon, is rare pleasure worth the high cost.

A recent court decision out of Maine will likely be used in classrooms for generations to come. That's not because it tells a worthwhile story of American history, nor does it involve famous personalities, nor because it's so well written it merits inclusion in America's literary canon. Rather, it simply shows how significant an Oxford comma can be when determining the meaning of a sentence. And if you don't know what an Oxford comma is, read on, because, clearly, it's pretty important to writing clearly and effectively.

This case boiled down to one statute with a list of exemptions, separated by commas, except for the last exclusion. Essentially, dairy delivery drivers were claiming that under Maine law, they were entitled to overtime wages, despite their employer claiming they were excluded by the very same Maine law. However, that law is not so clear on whether delivery drivers would be exempt or not. And you guessed it, that ambiguity is the result of a missing Oxford comma.