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Holy Smokes: Marijuana in Massachusetts

Congratulations, Massachusetts! We have survived our first full day of legal recreational marijuana.

Realistically, not much has changed. Massachusetts has been pro- marijuana for almost ten years. We first decriminalized (meaning you won’t get arrested for possession) it in 2008 and approved it for medical use in 2012. The first “local” medical dispensary was recently approved in Mansfield, in the town next to our office.

Effective yesterday, anyone age 21 or old can possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their primary residence; however, there are still rules that must be followed, some of which are:
·         You can also possess up to 6 plants if you live alone and 12 plants if you live with another adult;
·         If you want to give someone else an ounce of marijuana as a gift, you can do it;
·         If you want to sell it, you still cannot; and
·         Your plants cannot be displayed in plain sight (aka in a window facing the street).

One of the key provisions of the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is that it is “illegal to prevent a person from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the consumption, display, production, processing, manufacturing, or sale of marijuana and marijuana accessories on or in a property the person owns, occupies, or manages except that a lease agreement shall not prohibit a tenant consuming marijuana by means other than smoking on or in property in which tenant resides unless failing to do so would cause the landlord to violate Federal law.”

This language creates an immediate concern for many landlords. If a landlord already has a “no smoking” regulation on their premises, there should already been an understanding that smoking marijuana in that unit would not be permitted; however, whether or not the tenant would be able to possess or grow marijuana on the premises is probably unclear in the existing lease. For this reason, we recommend that all landlords immediately create an addendum to their existing lease agreement to regulate the growing and smoking of marijuana.

Please see our website www.wjslegal.com for more information. As always, please feel free to contact us about this or any other legal questions that you may have.
rday, anyone age 21 or old can possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their primary residence; however, there are still rules that must be followed, some of which are:
·         You can also possess up to 6 plants if you live alone and 12 plants if you live with another adult;
·         If you want to give someone else an ounce of marijuana as a gift, you can do it;
·         If you want to sell it, you still cannot; and
·         Your plants cannot be displayed in plain sight (aka in a window facing the street).

One of the key provisions of the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is that it is “illegal to prevent a person from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the consumption, display, production, processing, manufacturing, or sale of marijuana and marijuana accessories on or in a property the person owns, occupies, or manages except that a lease agreement shall not prohibit a tenant consuming marijuana by means other than smoking on or in property in which tenant resides unless failing to do so would cause the landlord to violate Federal law.”

This language creates an immediate concern for many landlords. If a landlord already has a “no smoking” regulation on their premises, there should already been an understanding that smoking marijuana in that unit would not be permitted; however, whether or not the tenant would be able to possess or grow marijuana on the premises is probably unclear in the existing lease. For this reason, we recommend that all landlords immediately create an addendum to their existing lease agreement to regulate the growing and smoking of marijuana.

Please see our website www.wjslegal.com for more information. As always, please feel free to contact us about this or any other legal questions that you may have.

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The Room Where it Happened

“No one really knows how the
Parties get to yessssss
The pieces that are sacrificed in
Ev’ry game of chessssss
We just assume that it happens
But no one else is in
The room where it happens.”

-Lin Manuel Miranda

I have a friend who lives in a charming town located a couple of hours outside of London, England.  She lived in the United States for some time and still has an acute interest in what happens here. I recently asked her about how her local friends, family and colleagues perceived our President- Elect, Donald Trump.  Part of her response included this inquiry, “Giving some states more votes doesn’t seem fair. Surely one person, one vote works best?”

Electoral and popular votes usually point in the same direction, but not always.   Regardless of whether you favor it, the process was established by the Founding Fathers many, many years ago. We have journals and drafts which documented their process, but nobody knows for sure what fully happened in the negotiating sessions. There are two primary theories to why the Electoral College was created:

The most known theory is that it was developed to balance the influence of the small states with the larger ones.  Current sub-beliefs are that that the process was developed to account for the slave population in the South. Although slaves were unable to vote, inclusion of them greatly increased a state’s population (even though they were only counted as 3/5 of a person), the state’s representation in Congress and their number of electoral votes.

An alternative theory, and the one recognized by the National Achieves and Records Administration, is that the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College as part of the Constitution as a compromise. Many historians believe that there were heated arguments about how a President should be selected. The exclusive group, which included Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, argued whether Congress should appoint a President or qualified citizens should be allowed to vote.

More likely than not, the reasoning of the Founding Fathers was a combination of both reasons. We will probably never know the full story, because none of us were in the room where it happened.
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The Official WJS Endorsement for the 2016 Elections

We were hoping that you would ask who we are voting for in 2016.  We thought that you might. Since you didn’t ask, we will just tell you.
For the last few months, the news has been dominated by scandals. Instead of focusing on imperfect people, our focus should be on who is more likely to conduct the country’s business successfully, especially the nomination of United States Supreme Court Justices.

 

Only a few month ago, everyone was talking the importance of nominating the next Supreme Court Justice. As you may remember, we blogged about it soon after Scalia’s death at https://wjslegal.com/blog/page/3/

 

Very little time has been spent since Scalia’s death discussing the Supreme Court. Given this election cycle, it’s not a total surprise despite the number of seats on the Court which may become empty within the next four or eight years. Depending who makes and confirms the nomination, the Court may look very different in the next decade.

 

During the 2016-2017 term, the Court will hear a variety of cases related to gun ownership, freedom of religion, voting rights, the death penalty, and equal protection. One of the cases likely to draw the most interest is one involving the bathroom use of transgender high school student.

 

Do you have an opinion about any of these matters? If so, then it matters to you who becomes President and which of the down ballot candidates will be confirming the President’s nominations. Each vote has the potential to change our country.

 

So, for the first time ever, the Law Office of Weiner Jackson & Simmons is making an endorsement: we are voting for the Supreme Court. You heard it here first.

 

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Why an Owner’s Title Policy?

Great information from Old Republic Title Group, who we proudly represent:

Mr. Seller and (presumably) Mrs. Seller arrived at settlement to execute the deed to Mr. & Mrs. Buyer. A while later, the real Mrs. Seller’s attorney mails a letter to Mr. & Mrs. Buyer claiming the property still belongs to Mrs. Seller, who had been separated at the time of the purported sale and unaware of the perfidy of Mr. Seller.

Joe Frazier, after his annuity income stops, decides your property is still his, 14 years after he signed a deed. Sounds crazy, but he still sues you and you need a good title attorney, NOW.

Your legal description recites a boundary along a roadway. Your seller says he uses the dirt roadway to get out to the main roadway. The searcher just assumes there is legal access to a public road because of the way the legal description reads. When the property owner over which you must travel to reach the main highway sells, the new owner decides to block off the dirt road. Now you are landlocked. You may or may not be able to require this neighbor to open the roadway again without purchasing an easement from him, but you have to go to court and pay a lawyer and the court expenses.

A new regime takes over the local municipal government determined to save the taxpayer’s money and get re-elected again and again. The “newly elected” tackle their new job with vigor that would surpass the “white tornado” in that old commercial for a newer, stronger, more disinfectant cleaner. They are determined to “clean house.” To their delight they discover that their campaign rhetoric was absolutely true. The last members of the municipal board had never gone after the scofflaws of the township to get them to pay their water/sewer line tap-in fees, or their street improvement assessments, or any of the other myriad township assessments and fees imposed on the upstanding property owners as a privilege to live in “Camelot” township. Now is the time to collect on the old municipal liens. But now you are the owner of the property. It was your seller who was the “scofflaw.”

When you purchased your property, the settlement clerk paid off the seller’s mortgages. You thought your troubles were over. Later when you went to refinance your mortgage for a lower interest rate, the searcher finds old open mortgages still against your property. The settlement clerk had obtained a letter of indemnification from the seller’s title insurance underwriter (because the seller had an Owner’s Title Policy) in order to insure over these old mortgages. Later the clerk failed, for whatever reason, to obtain releases from the mortgage companies to clear the courthouse records. If you did not purchase an Owner’s Title Policy insuring you against such liens, you cannot obtain a letter of indemnification, as did the seller when you purchased, because you did not purchase the Owner’s Title Policy to protect yourself.

However, you were advised by a trusted and competent advisor that you do not need an owner’s title policy. “Once they search the title to protect the lender, you know your chain is good. So why pay the extra money for an owner’s policy.” Good advice? Not when that claim comes in.

A Lender’s Title Policy insures only the lender. And the Lender’s policy insures that the mortgage is a first lien. The lender, of course, would be concerned if you lost your title to the property but only when you lost your title to the property. The lender would be concerned if they found out there is a judgment or municipal lien ahead of their mortgage in lien priority; but only when the mortgage is in foreclosure. The lender gets concerned once the tragedy has already happened. An owner is concerned before it gets that far. And, without an Owner’s Policy, you are not covered and you must pay someone else’s debt.

Because the title policy is an indemnity contract for losses, the mortgage company must suffer a loss before they actually have a claim under the Lender’s Title Policy. Therefore, they must proceed to foreclosure, sell the property and obtain less than the debt due on the loan. By that time the owner has been ejected from the property.

For just a little more money over the lender’s-only policy you can get an Owner’s and Lender’s policy combination that protects your ownership interest. In addition, should you die, the ownership interests of you heirs or devisees are also protected under this same policy. You pay a premium only once and the policy continues in force until you sell to a third party. Don’t let anyone convince you that the lenders coverage accrues to your benefit.

Reprinted from the December 1999 issue of the Old Republic National Title Insurance Company newsletter, Title Talk, Pennsylvania Edition

For more information or with specific questions, please feel free to contact us at (508)319-1529.

 

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Top 10 Legal Statistics

Once you reach a certain age, it’s hard not to feel nostalgic about your younger days. Life was so easy and you were invincible. You loved drinking Tab, listening your Guns and Roses cassette, and watching Goonies. Those favorite things often bring us comfort as we are busy “adulting” and moving forward into new adventures. In the spirit of favorite bits of nostalgia, we present a Letterman-style Top 10 List:

Top 10 Random Legal Tidbits

10. Take note the next time you are at Fenway or Gillette: Anyone over the age of 16 and at a sporting event who uses obscene language or a slanderous statement can be punished by a fine of up to $50. Yes, that does include during the playoffs.
9. Massachusetts was the first state to allow for same sex marriage. In 2009, the couple at the center of the historic ruling got divorced (after over 20 years as a couple).
8. Title Insurance on your home is very much worth the one- time investment. If there is ever an issue with the title to your property, your policy will usually cover the cost of correcting the problem. Typically, the cost of the policy is less than two or three hours of legal fees.
7. Don’t go to a wake on an empty stomach. No mourner is allowed to consume more than three sandwiches, of any size, at a funeral home within the Commonwealth. For years, any service of food or drink in the home was prohibited; however, the laws have loosened a little bit so that cold beverages and light snacks may be served to make mourners more comfortable.
6. The United States Supreme Court has been involved in two Presidential elections in the past. In addition to Bush versus Gore in 2000, the Supreme Court was also involved in the 1876 race between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden. If the current election continues to be as emotionally charged as it currently is, it’s not unlikely that this election also requires judicial intervention.
5. One town in the Commonwealth does not allow residents to buy, sell, or possess squirt guns. The same town also prohibits the use of silly string and ownership of more than two dogs. It sounds like a dreadful place to live if you are a kid; fortunately, the Target in that town seems to be more pro-fun than compliance and usually carries two out of the three in stock.
4. Negotiations can occasionally be very similar to the opening scene of Wedding Crashers. People sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture and fight over “small” things, like license plates. We understand when emotions take over, because it is a highly emotional time and there can be a strong connection to personal property. The best attorneys will defuse negativity and keep parties focused on resolution. However, to date, neither of us have crashed a wedding (yet).
3. Sometimes, it does just depend. When attorneys respond “it depends,” we aren’t trying to avoid answering a question. More often than not, our answer often requires additional information for a more specific answer. Even the slightest tweak in facts can change our overall impression about a situation and the likelihood that a ruling or resolution will be in our client’s favor.
2. Dancing to or singing only a portion of the Star Spangled Banner is prohibited anywhere with the Commonwealth; however, singing off-key, while arm in arm in arm with friends, to Sweet Caroline is strongly suggested.
1. We are so excited to announce the opening of the Law Office of Weiner Jackson & Simmons, P.C.! We founded the practice based on our belief that a team of hard working, client- focused, determined professionals can provide a higher quality more personal service to our community. Please check out our website www.wjslegal.com and follow us on Facebook.

 

North Attleboro Plainville Wrentham Bristol Norfolk Real estate child support custody divorce real estate homestead title insurance Attleboro lawyer legal law office modification contempt estate plan planning will power of attorney old republic title company living will Norton Franklin Bellingham Canton Easton Marin School Association Representative Town Meeting Junior League of Boston Contractor Disputes Personal Injury Landlord Tenant  Deed paternity South Attleboro Cub Scout pack 65