New Year, New Laws for 2012

By: Michele Wolfson

January 1st, 2012 marks the first day of a whole slew of new laws that will take affect.  The new laws that will ring in the New Year include "No Shark Fins in Soup" as well as "No Caffeine and Beer."

Will these rules affect you? We want to hear your thoughts. Read below for an extensive list of the several new rules...


Two new laws in Oregon and California will prohibit the possession, sale, trade or distribution of shark fins. The California law specifies that a person must hold a license in order to possess shark fins for scientific purposes. In addition, restaurants may possess and sell shark fins for one full year, if purchased before Jan. 1, 2012. Now that the sale of shark fins for commercial purposes is illegal under both state and federal law, we'll likely see more incidents like this: A Mexican woman was stopped at the border in San Sedro, California allegedly trying to smuggle shark fins into the U.S., reports UPI.


California law will prohibit the production, distribution or sale of beer to which caffeine has been directly added as a separate ingredient. The Sacramento Bee reports that California is the seventh state to ban caffeinated beer and that most manufacturers are changing their formulas to exclude caffeine.

In November 2010, the FDA sent a warning letter to four major alcohol companies to stop producing the drinks with caffeine added as a separate ingredient. All the manufacturers have since complied.

However, there is a difference between beverages that are brewed with coffee and other naturally caffeinated ingredients and beverages that contain caffeine as a separate added ingredient - the latter being banned by the new law. This California bill is not putting an end to brews like Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, Mateveza Yerba Mate IPA, or Meantime Coffee Porter, which are all brewed with coffee, coffee beans, or herbal tea.


A new law in California prohibits the use of ultraviolet tanning devices by children under the age of 18. It is a fact that any length of exposure, sun or ultraviolet, can potentially lead to cancers and other skin related problems. Another argument being raised is the one of government overstepping their boundaries in a way and taking away the freedom of choice. Some feel that people under 18 have the choice to go tanning while others believe it should be illegal all together.


Law SB 929 mandates that children remain in booster seats an additional two years until they reach age 8 or four feet nine inches tall. Previously, booster seats were mandated only for kids until they reached age 6 or 60 lbs., whichever came first. Violators risk a fine of more than $400, in addition to a point on their driving record.


The new law in California will allow pharmacies to sell sterile syringes to an adult without a prescription. Currently, 47 states allow pharmacists to sell syringes without a prescription. Most states amended their laws in light of overwhelming evidence that criminalizing access to sterile syringes led drug users to share used ones, and that sharing syringes spread HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases that can live in a used syringe.

Keep in mind that in 2011, lawmakers in all 50 states and territories came up with close to 40,000 new laws on issues across the board. Stay informed and find out what new laws your state has in 2012.

Photo: pinkangelbabe

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