Is Legal Marijuana Bigger Than The Internet of Things?

The greatest innovation in history –

Nothing on Earth today (and I mean nothing at all), not smartphones, automotives, aerospace, real estate, gold, oil, software, biotechnology, nothing… is growing as much or as fast as the market for legal marijuana.

Consider this: By 2020, the market for legal marijuana will top $22.8 billion (not million, but billion with a B).The legal market for cannabis “could be bigger than the National Football League, which saw $12 billion of revenue in 2015. Between 2016 and 2029, the projected growth of marijuana is expected to reach $100 billion – 1,308% growth.

Estimates place the number of some time marijuana users in the neighborhood of 50 million people. As many as 7.6 million indulge on a daily basis. Out of the 83.3 million milllennials, fully 68%of them want cannabis to be legal and available. Once legalization takes hold everywhere, dozens of already established firms – in the tobacco industry… in agriculture and irrigation… in pharmacueticals – are going to want to jump in without hesitation. And if you want more proof that marijuana is going mainstream, consider this…

On Nov 8th, tens of millions of Americans in nine states headed to the polls and voted on the future of marijuana. California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. And voters in Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota and Montana passed ballot initiatives legalizing medical marijuana. Only Arizona, where recreational cannabis was up for a vote, decided against legalization. Together, these states (excluding Arizona) represent a total population of 75 million people. That means one in five Americans – 20% of us – woke up on Aug 9th finding themselves in a state where medical and/or recreational marijuana is legal for adults 21 and over.

Even Hollywood celebrities are getting into the act. Many folks already know about the weed-related business activities of Snoop Dog, country music legend Willie Nelson and actor and comedian Tommy Chong. Fewer know that Grammy Award winning singer Melissa Etheridge is developing her own line of cannabis-infused wine and TV talk show host Whoopi Goldberg is launching a line of medical marijuana products aimed at women. And people listen to Hollywood icons. Nothing is more mainstream than the TV sitcom.

On July 13th in 2016, Variety revealed that Netflix is planning to air a sitcom set inside a legal pot dispensary. Called DisJointed, the show is the brainchild of TV genius Chuck Lorre, creator of such mainstream blockbusters as The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. A recent poll by Quinnipiac University found that 89 percent of voters in the United States believe that adults should be allowed legal access to medical marijuana when a doctor prescribes it. And the U.S.A. is not the only country poised to loosen the reins on marijuana. Israel, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Australia, Uruguay, Jamaica, Germany and Columbia have either legalized or decriminalized possession.

Since 1972, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Schedule 1 drugs are those considered to lack medical use and present a high potential for abuse. As a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana gets grouped alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. But in the face of mounting pressure from the doctors, medical researchers, state governments and Congress, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have come under pressure to downgrade marijuana to a Schedule II drug, or maybe even a Schedule III.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2030 one fifth of the population – 72 million Americans – will be 65 or older. Those Baby Boomers will all confront a slew of age-related ailments, such as glaucoma, cancer, arthritis and back pain. As it happens, cannabis-based remedies are uniquely suited to treating those diseases. So, as the elderly population grows, so will the size of the medical marijuana market. Social acceptance of cannabis will grow as well, as millions of people discover the benefits of medical marijuana for themselves.

A single marijuana dispensary could bring in more than $676 million a year. Not all of that cash comes from weed itself. Most folks have already heard about things like “pot brownies.” But the market for marijuana “edibles” goes for beyond that. There are weed desserts and weed energy drinks. In fact, we’re even about to see the opening of the world’s first weed distillery.

For people averse to inhaling smoke, there are sites that offer THC-laden capsules, lip balms, hash bath oils, topical compound, and even THC patches that provide “accurate dosing… a quick onset and unsurpassed duration.” Thirsty users can enjoy THC-infused coffees, sodas, and sparkling waters. Aside from the market boom in recreational cannabis, medicinal marijuana and derivatives have also been seeing brisk growth, and for good reason.

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation usually lose their appetite and have sensitive stomachs. But if they don’t eat, the treatments aren’t as effective. Cannabis has been proven to help stimulate the appetite and settle the stomach. There is also new work being done with cannabis oil that shows promise treating epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, some cancers, and even rheumatoid arthritis. The oil is also effective for insomnia.

For most of the 20th century, doctors knew little about the working of out most important organ, the human brain. Brain cells dictate almost one of our sensations, thoughts, and actions sending signals that trigger appetite and hunger. Marijuana seems to bridge the gap. The voters in state after start are quickly coming to an agreement that cannabis is in fact medicine. Momentum is only going in one direction.

Better Legal Billing: Win Win Client Options

In the old days of legal billing, lawyer’s invoices — usually a single page of elegant letterhead–contained only the phrase, “legal services rendered,” and a hefty dollar amount. No time breakdowns, no list of activities performed or equipment and supplies used–just a final, usually shocking, charge.
But client demands and the evolution of sophisticated billing software have led to more detailed invoices today. Itemized statements have triggered discussion among businesses about whether hourly billing is the best way to be charged for legal services. As the legal profession becomes more competitive and dependent on high quality customer service, lawyers need to embrace alternate billing methods.
Fixed or flat fees, contingency fees, non-refundable retainers with discounted hourly fees, blended hourly fees and variations on those themes are becoming increasingly common. But many law firms have been slow to join this trend — lawyers still perform approximately 95 percent of their corporate legal work on an hourly basis.
What does that mean for your small business? If your company is currently working with a law firm or looking for legal counsel, try requesting alternate billing options. While many law firms rarely initiate different options, they’ll negotiate when brought to the table. If you want something better than the old “bill by the hour” deal, try presenting one of these billing structures:
Project billing for routine issues
If your legal needs include large but repetitive tasks, consider a flat-fee approach, also known as project billing. If you need legal assistance on a large research project involving several repetitive tasks with a fair amount of predictability for cost estimation and time duration, request a dollar cap for predetermined services. Be sure to compare estimated costs at the equivalent hourly rate–a projected cap that far exceeds any likely bill is really no cap at all.
Once you get a project billing estimate, don’t hesitate to shop around. Making an informed decision — shopping around, comparing prices and services with other law firms — is good business sense, especially if you intend to hire a firm for a single project. If you anticipate establishing a long-term relationship, mention this as you’re negotiating a project amount — a firm may provide a better deal if it expects future work from your company.
Results-oriented options
Forget the image of personal injury attorneys taking a third of any verdict or settlement. Consider instead contingency fees — fees based on the outcome of the case and the performance of your counsel. Creative use of contingency fees can create efficiencies in even the most high-level corporate settings. If you retain a lawyer to help your company avoid litigation, couple a reduced hourly rate with a bonus for successfully lowering your litigation outlays.
You also can establish an incentive based on a percentage of money won or saved in trial. If you’re a defendant in a case where the plaintiff has a strong shot at a $1 million settlement, negotiate a flat fee if the case goes to trial, plus a bonus if the plaintiff ends up getting less than $1 million. If you’re a plaintiff and estimate your case is worth between $1 and $2 million, you might negotiate services for a flat fee plus a percentage of any settlement over $1 million.
Contingency fees turn the matter into a shared risk or shared incentive, making the law firm your business partner, not just representation. Contingency fees can work well with both flat fee and reduced hourly fee arrangements. Because a number of variations on the “pay-according-to-success” theme exist, you should ask firms for the options they’re willing to discuss.
Multi-layered tasks
If you’re shopping for a firm for substantial legal work involving a number of legal specialties, consider using blended hourly fees. Rather than each attorney billing at the usual hourly rate, the firm calculates in advance an “average” rate based on the anticipated time each attorney spends on the matter.
The value of this arrangement is twofold–it helps define responsibility in a project and it provides a fair price schedule for the client, who avoids paying a senior partner’s hourly rate for research that should be conducted by a junior associate
Legal “Insurance” Firms without in-house counsel that frequently hire legal services might consider contracting with a firm. In this legal billing option, firms and clients agree to a specific charge per month in exchange for a predetermined set of legal services. The contract fee permits the client to pick up the phone and talk to the attorney without needing to eye the clock. This approach works like a legal insurance policy. It encourages companies to contact their counsel on non-litigation, non-crisis matters, and to save money in the long run by engaging in more preventive legal action.

Just as in business, the impetus for change comes from consumer demand. The sooner businesses take the lead in securing more effectively tailored billing methods from their legal counsel, the sooner they’ll get better, more cost-effective legal assistance.

Legal Disputes of the Future

Who owns food? Who pays for this accident? Who owns my face? Who owns the Arctic? Who owns the Pacific Ocean? Who owns the sky? These sound like some ridiculous questions at first glance but let’s take a second look at the future through the Great Karnak’s trusty crystal ball.

Who owns food?

Let’s start with this one, since it has, more or less, already taken place. A small landowner in Nebraska named Bill parks his tractor in the shed after a long day of work in the fields. He wipes sixteen hours worth of sweat off his brow while he opens his mail. All bills. Two men in dark suits approach him at the front door and hand him a subpoena. The farmer opens the subpoena, quite surprised to learn he’s being sued by a major U.S. corporation for copyright infringement. It’s a huge settlement they’re after – in the millions. He doesn’t have one tenth of what they’re asking in damages. Since he sits on a tractor most days, he hasn’t got the faintest notion how he could be named in a suit for copyright infringement. He’s certain they’ve got a case of mistaken identity and places the document at the bottom of a pile of correspondence, making a mental note to consult his lawyer about what to do with the nuisance suit.

Rest assured, it’s no mistake. The large U.S. corporation spent millions in developing a strand of DNA for corn that is resistant to a pesticide they also own. When you buy their corn seeds and use their pesticide for your crops, you’ll get excellent results. They copyright the strand of corn DNA they worked to develop. To protect the investment in DNA research they hire over seventy-five corporate lawyers to aggressively prosecute copyright ‘thieves’. They have to establish a legal precedent that attracts a lot of publicity; they intend to branch out into other food stuffs, such as eggs that last longer on the shelf, wheat that produces heavier grain, chickens that add weight quickly, beef that responds to their brand of steroids in cattle foods. The list is endless, and it’s all going to be done by protecting copyrighted DNA strands.

Bill consults his country lawyer about the suit, explaining that he has stolen nothing in his life from anyone. The lawyer does a bit of researching and discovers he’s opposed on the brief by some of the best legal minds in history, paid for by a Dow Jones multinational. He first explains to the multinational that his client doesn’t know how the patented corn seed got into his fields. Possibly the seed cleaning company that strips seeds off Bill’s corn for next year’s crop has intermingled patented seeds with his. He tries to offer a settlement but this is not what the corporation wants. They want a trial. They wish to establish for the record that they’re prepared to sue if anyone grows their corn without paying them for the seeds.

Bill and the country lawyer lose the case which costs him more than he can pay in damages and legal costs. He appeals. The appeal also loses right up to the Supreme Court since copyright law is sacrosanct in the U.S. Intellectual property, in this case a section of DNA, is property protected by the highest court in the land. Bill’s house, farm and equipment are sold at auction to the highest bidder, and the proceeds given to a multinational worth more than a quarter trillion in market cap. The proceeds don’t cover the cost of one of the lawyers for one year, but they’ve earned an important victory – they own food.

Who pays for this accident?

Late June, 2016. A new electric car with one occupant is proceeding along a Florida highway within the speed limit. Up ahead, a tractor trailer crossing the pavement at an intersection blocks the way. The driver, who has the vehicle on ‘auto-pilot’ is reading work-related files and doesn’t see the upcoming collision; he trusts his car will react properly and put on the brakes, as advertized. The software or hardware on the car malfunctions, the result is that the car smashes at full speed into the trailer blocking the road, disintegrating the car and killing its occupant.

Within hours of learning of the crash, the vehicle manufacturer issues a statement: ‘Neither the auto-pilot nor the driver saw the tractor trailer in the blinding sun’, trying to diminish responsibility by including the driver’s inattention to the road. A sharp lawyer advises the family of the deceased to sue, since, by definition, he was not the driver; the car company’s software was driving. The driver of the tractor trailer is found blameless because it was possible to avoid the accident, just as every other vehicle did in this situation.

The impending lawsuit sends shivers down the corporate world’s spine. Will they be forced to halt production of their cars? Offer compensation in the billions as GM or Ford experienced? Will it affect future car sales? Will there be expensive recalls? Their very survival hangs in the balance on the outcome of this legal battle. The car company uses as its indemnity the disclaimer every software user accepts before they can switch on the ‘auto-pilot’. Use at your own risk, they say, just like all software. If a calculator gives you the wrong answer, is the calculator manufacturer to blame if you make a wrong bid on a billion dollar tower construction and lose your shirt because of it? No, it’s the user’s responsibility to check all calculations.

Not so fast, says the family’s lawyer. I present to you as evidence sales material from the car company showing people in these cars on ‘auto-pilot’ busily reading files related to work, texting on their phones, eating sandwiches and coffee, streaming movies. The company has promoted the auto-pilot as reliable, in fact more reliable than humans. The manufacturer, in order to sell the product, has accepted the responsibility for the safety of its passengers, or users, by heavily implying that users can relax while the software guides them safely to their destinations. It’s the car company that killed their client, no one else, by encouraging the car buyers to trust the software to the extent that they don’t have to pay attention to the road ahead. Why else would you buy it?

Insurance companies are prepared to fund the legal challenge to a successful outcome. They want a clear definition of who’s at fault before they begin underwriting any more policies. Driverless car manufacturers are rushing headlong into the intersection of Lawyer and Technology Streets with their eyes closed. Keep watching this space, you’ll never see a bigger smash-up.

Who owns my face?

Brad Pratt is a famous movie star. His wife Angie Groaner is too. They’re fed up to the teeth with being filmed by paparazzi. Brad is filmed in public toilets. Angie is filmed at the doctor’s office. What gets them most upset is they’re captured on film with their kids. They don’t have a moment to themselves, not even after they move from the U.S. to the outskirts of London, England. Every time they walk past a newsstand they look the other way so they don’t have to read headlines about themselves in stories they didn’t sanction. Angie especially deplores the stories depicting her children as alien babies. Paparazzi invade their lives every waking, sometimes not waking, moment.

That’s the price of fame say the news organizations. Bullpoop, says Brad, and I’m going to come up with a way to stop it. Unbeknownst to the so-called ‘news’ media, Brad and Angie consult with the best legal minds and come up with a solution: trademark their faces.

A trademark is the copyright of an image related to the conduct of business, and since Brad and Angie’s faces are their business (worth millions), they’re well within their rights to trademark their mugs. They take a 360° view of their faces and deposit them with all the necessary paperwork at every major trademark registration office throughout the world.

They can’t wait for their first lawsuit to prove the concept. Soon, a tabloid prints the story, ‘Brad and Angie Have Alien Twins’. The photographer and Celebrity Ogler are served with an invitation to attend court in every country in which they publish.

The photog is a nobody with a camera. He’s paid up to a quarter of a million dollars for candid shots depicting Brad on the toilet or Angie in a dress shop changing room. He explains that Celebrity Ogler paid him to take these pictures on a spec basis. The more revealing and damaging the photo, the more they get paid, so anything goes, regardless of the rules of common courtesy or decency.

The publisher, Celebrity Ogler, claims that the two famous people made their millions by being in the public eye, and if it weren’t for news and tabloids, the couple would be living in anonymity. They benefited from free publicity for their rise to stardom and now it’s simply inconvenient to them. They also argue in most countries, it’s their constitutional right to publish news stories related to anyone, regardless of their position in society. What if they were guilty of murder, could we be prevented from displaying their pictures on newspapers?

Pratt and Groaner’s legal team argues that their trademark, central to their business of making films, has been used without their permission and that both the photographer and the publisher have profited using someone else’s copyrighted image. These magazines are not reporting ‘news’; they rely on sales of their tabloids based on the already established popularity of their subjects. Now that they have trademarked their faces, the defendants have profited off someone else’s popularity and their image.

The court rules in favor of the plaintiffs. They’re awarded damages and any further use of their trademarked images can only be done by permission. It will be a very long time before Pratt and Groaner give permission for strangers to take their picture. A new business for trade-marking faces is spawned.

Who owns the Arctic?

In the 1850’s a British expedition to find the Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean goes missing for over a hundred years. Fast forward one hundred and fifty years. Due to global warming the ice pack has melted and it is now possible to sail year round through the Arctic Ocean.

Oil is discovered outside the new economic exclusion zone and Canada protests the invasion of oil drilling wells from the U.S., taking the case to the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. Canada claims sovereignty of the Artic to the North Pole. The U.S. says, ‘See you in court. No one can own an international waterway.’

Who owns the Pacific Ocean?

In a mirror image incident in the Pacific Ocean in international waters off China, barges filled with earth drop millions of tons of rocks and slurry to create a small land mass. The Chinese fill enough of the ocean to create a tiny island in the Pacific large enough to plant their flag. They then declare an economic exclusion zone of two hundred miles in all directions and begin drilling for oil.

The American navy sails through the disputed waters. Certain of the rightness of their cause, China begins sending belligerent diplomatic notes of protest to the United States and the United Nations. The U.S. does not recognize their sovereignty in an international waterway by the artificial creation of a land mass. The Chinese are ready to start a war and take pot shots at the U.S. navy in what used to be international waters. Tensions come to a boil before the case can be heard in international courts. The Chinese threaten to begin a war with the U.S. over the issue.

The U.S. responds by entering trade agreements with India and setting up manufacturing facilities for a wide range of consumer items, directly competing with cheap Chinese labor. Twenty years after the shift to India, the U.S. and its allies block all further Chinese imports.

Who owns the sky?

Fred and Harriet are having dinner in their isolated country home. They’re having Fred’s favorite recipe – Mulligatawny soup. An object crashes through the roof and kills the couple outright. Upon investigation, the object belongs to Grooble, a technology firm developing driverless cars. One of their satellites, while repositioning itself to a new orbit, received an incorrect set of coordinates from the controller and crashed back to earth, landing on hapless Fred and Harriet, and the soup tureen. The pieces of wreckage found clearly indicate the ownership of the fallen satellite. Fred and Harriet’s heirs file suit.

The ownership of a piece of land includes the space above and below it, with no defined limit. If you wish to build above the land five hundred stories high there can be no legal objection to it. The plaintiffs argue that their property rights are infringed at any altitude and Grooble was encroaching on the couple’s right to ownership of their property, even though the satellite might have been hovering six thousand miles above them. Since the satellite owners accept the premise that the hardware might malfunction for any number of reasons and come crashing back to earth, they knowingly encroached on property they do not own.

The Grooble Corporation argues that international agreements have determined space (defined as 62.5 miles altitude) to be outside the purview of local property laws. The heirs of the property owners claim that once the satellite re-entered the atmosphere, it was no longer subject to the laws that govern space and are therefore seeking damages afforded them by local property rights, the same as they would if an airplane dropped on their house.

Looking back we find it hard to believe some of the cases that were heard to defend people’s rights and property. The Scopes trial of the Twenties comes to mind, which defended an educator’s right to discuss evolution. A divisive question for its time, a mere ninety years later, it’s almost irrelevant, replaced by the new issues that arise with the advent of technological discovery. The conflicts these new challenges create will burn brightly in their time, setting one against the other in tumult and violent upheaval until, just like all issues, the unveiling of new eras and new civilizations will make them pass into irrelevance. But is mankind now changing too quickly to adapt to new situations? For instance, will we pollute and kill all marine life in the oceans before we can develop legal frameworks to stop it? Will a country poison the atmosphere for the rest of the world? Will nations figure out a solution to global warming before it’s too late? Will DNA continue to be copyrighted preventing food from being grown by private citizens in times of starvation? Will space be cluttered with so much debris as to make it unusable? Legal disputes of the future are extremely difficult to predict but their outcomes greatly impact our societies.