Several outlets picked up on the fact that laws passed in Texas earlier in the year now allowed for openly carrying swords, banned texting while driving, and had several other assorted effects, but one thing that was virtually unreported when it became effective was a small but significant change to the State’s underage drinking laws.
As more laws are passed it gets easier to add more and more fines onto the original offense without much notice. Case in point – one week ago on March 24th, 2017 the Governor of Tennessee signed a law which effectively increased the maximum fine for possessing less than a half ounce of marijuana by 10%, doubling the minimum fine at the same time.
The notion that driving is a privilege subject to the whims of the State and not a protected right has taken a firm hold. By threatening to revoke a 'privilege' instead of a 'right', such as your liberty by throwing you in jail or your property by assessing a fine, failure to comply is not technically a crime and thus, being compelled to provide blood, urine or breath samples does not violate your 'right' to not incriminate yourself.
One question I’ve been hearing more lately in the wake of recent shootings at bars, nightclubs and music festivals is whether its legal to carry a concealed weapon into those places for protection. As usual with these questions, the answer is “it varies”.
While alcohol and firearms don’t mix, there are plenty of people who go to concerts, shows and other venues where alcohol is served without drinking. Designated drivers immediately come to mind. How each state addresses these situations is influenced by several types of laws.
Someone loses gun rights for a first DUI in Massachusetts, but can possess pounds of marijuana without facing this risk. Yet in Arizona one can basically never lose your gun rights for a simple DUI no matter how habitually convicted, while possession of any amount of marijuana there will trigger this loss.
Recently a federal court ruling made it legal for officers to shoot dogs in homes for moving or barking. Yes, you read that right. If an officer is called to a home or enters with a warrant they are allowed to kill your dog for basically acting like a dog.
Bringing marijuana through airport security and onto commercial aircraft seems to be extremely risky business. The penalty for bringing between four and 14 grams of marijuana into Georgia is a mandatory minimum term of 5 years in jail and a fine of $50,000. This can be a terrifying prospect to the average high flying marijuana tourist. But Georgia doesn’t search fliers after they land at their destination and are headed out of the airport so what is the penalty for someone caught with the substance before they fly there?
As we approach the end of the year it’s worth looking back at what we’ve accomplished in that time. A lot of change can take place in 12 months, all of which present learning opportunities. This was no different for us.
At the start of 2016 our journey looked to be a long, hard slog through uncertain waters. One of our founders had recently become a parent after a complex pregnancy and premature birth, with the other soon to follow. Several key contributors had stepped back, each for different reasons, leaving us with critical gaps in our skill set as a team. On top of that, none of our fundraising efforts produced any return.
We started 2016 with some issues that racked up large bills, which would have crippled our operations to pay. Since we’d also learned the app needed to be significantly rebuilt, even though there were a few positive glimmers the number of possibly fatal issues facing us at times looked insurmountable.
But as the saying goes, “the harder you work the luckier you get”. Our team continued to work long and hard on our efforts to create this tool to heighten legal situational awareness, often without pay and on top of other jobs which covered their bills, and eventually secured enough funding to get the first version of ATLAS live.
Getting to that point was a significant milestone which presented new challenges. New feedback from the community at large revealed changes we needed to make, some more involved than others, which were turning off sizable groups of potential users. We listened and acted to address them all.
Over this time our marketing and outreach efforts grew substantially as well. As we further developed the app we continued to tailor our social and legacy media activity to respond to feedback and address trending issues. We saw several posts go viral, reaching tens of thousands of people, and had some very positive discussions with reporters at multiple outlets.
We watched a lot of laws change as well. Halfway through the year over a thousand laws we track had already needed to be updated. As we compile the updates for the end/start of the year that number looks to be equally large starting in January.
A collection of new seat belt laws, changing penalties for underage alcohol possession, updated requirements for carrying firearms, additional taxes, wholesale changes in the legal status of marijuana and more are occurring in almost every state. While some changes are minor, some are major which people in those states need to know about.
It was a challenging year for everyone, but here we are. 2017 is shaping up to be an interesting year full of change, and we’ll be here keeping you informed!
The ATLAS team operates virtually and only a few of us are close enough to each other to meet in person very often. This worked OK in the beginning but as we grow being close enough to collaborate more effectively is increasingly important.
This means moving! Over the last week, we spent a lot of time relocating personnel so we can sit down in groups more often without needing to rely on good internet connections. The better we can work together the better connected we can keep everyone! This will be an ongoing process and we’re happy for our progress.
New marijuana legalization which became effective last week formed the focus of our outreach efforts. There are more related changes coming with the New Year which we are currently watching.
With a lot of new laws going into effect on January 1 keeping them all straight can be difficult. We’ll be going over them a lot in the coming weeks and unpacking what they mean for each of us individually. There are several regions where a difference of a few feet can mean the difference between committing felonies and being legally in the clear. Make sure you know about any changes that will affect you!
We’ve brainstormed some new marketing campaigns you’ll probably start seeing around the New Year as well.
The iOS version of the app is still expected to be released around February; if you’d like to be a beta tester head to atlasmobile.tech/ios and let us know. We’ll reach out to you when the time comes. Thanks to those of you who have already volunteered to help! Your feedback makes a huge difference and we couldn’t do it without all of you.
New York City even has a ban on aluminum bats at high school baseball games. It’s safe to say that they take an exceptionally protective stance on weapons in the state. If the 2nd amendment weren’t such a high-profile and volatile issue, I’d be inclined to think they’d ban firearms entirely if they could.
Last week was all about outreach. Countless emails and social media messages went out to people who realize how important it is to have ready access to the power that knowledge provides. We spent hours on the phone with reporters and investors who see the potential in what we’re creating. And the response we’ve gotten has been fantastic.