How High Is Too High To Drive? The Liberals Don't Seem Know...

On July 3, 2018, the federal government announced its plan to earmark nearly $1 million towards research on cannabis impaired driving.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is set to undertake a three-year study to determine, once and for all, how high is too high for a person to drive.

This announcement comes just three months shy of when both Bills C-45 and C-46 will be passed into law. Respectively, these bills will make recreational cannabis legal in Canada and will fundamentally alter our impaired driving laws as they relate to the drug.

Bill C-46 will create a handful of new laws with respect to cannabis impaired driving.

So did the Liberals put the cart before the horse and rush into making laws without the proper scientific research to back them up? Exactly how high is too high to drive?

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Sarah Leamon
Will You Be Turned Away At The Border Once Cannabis Is Legal?

While some marijuana-smoking Canadians have already thought about how they will answer questions about their consumption when crossing the border, people working in the cannabis industry may not have turned their minds to how seemingly benign questions about their employment could affect them.

A question as simple as “what do you do for a living?” could result in a lifetime ban for people who work with cannabis. 

It is a scary thought…which is made all the more frightening by the sheer potential of its scope. 

After all, the Canadian cannabis industry is booming. 

If you receive financial remuneration for your participation or promotion of cannabis, you may be affected.  People working in legal cannabis in Canada, are considered to be living off the profits of the drug trade in America.

To learn more, read the full article at the link.


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Sarah Leamon Law Talks Radio - Episode 4

Welcome to Sarah Leamon Law Talks Radio!

On this episode, criminal defence lawyer Sarah Leamon is joined by two guests to discuss the bill c-46 and the future of impaired driving law in this country.

The first guest, Kelly, is a medical marijuana user. She has concerns about her ability to operate a motor vehicle and avoid a criminal record once bill c-46 is enacted.

The second guest, Cathryn Waker, is a criminal defence lawyer who specializes in impaired driving law. Cathryn has been following the bill closely and has concerns about how it will be implemented in the future. Listen in as Sarah and Cathryn dig into the nitty gritty of bill c-46 and discuss possible ways that it may be challenged through our courts.

The conversation is interesting...and you just might learn a thing or two!

Follow the link to listen!

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Sarah Leamon
Does Canada Really Need an Ambassador for Gender Equality?

There may be an interesting new job opportunity with the federal government if recent internal e-mails, memos, and options papers are to be believed. 

It appears that the federal government is considering creating a new—and potentially permanent—position for an ambassador for gender equality.

According to a memorandum authored by officials at Global Affairs Canada, the government is considering options for the possible appointment of a special envoy or ambassador for gender equality. They believe that such an appointment will help to advance a feminist approach to international policy and global relations. 

But does Canada really need an ambassador for gender equality?

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Sarah Leamon
Is Education the Answer to Curbing Cannabis Impaired Driving?

With cannabis legalization seemingly just around the corner, the discussion around responsible use is growing increasingly important. One of the main areas of concern has to do with cannabis use and driving. 

Cannabis use has been shown to have negative short-term impacts on reaction time, motor coordination, short-term memory, divided attention, and decision-making skills.  Driving following cannabis use actually increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident by 20 percent, on average. 

Quite simply, cannabis impairment is impairment. When a person who is impaired by cannabis drives, they are driving while impaired. 

But are wide, sweeping, potentially unconstitutional changes to our criminal laws the answer to cannabis impaired driving? Or is there a better alternative?

As is the case most things, my prediction that education will be key. 


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Sarah Leamon
Sarah Leamon Named "Best Of..." By The Richmond News

This year, I was thrilled to be included in The Richmond News' "Best Of..." edition!  In their yearly edition, The Richmond News wrote the following about me and my work in the community:

"When it comes to giving her opinion, Richmond criminal defense lawyer Sarah Leamon is not backward at coming forward.

She’s extremely active in her community and has been key in establishing a number of important non-profit organizations and currently acts as board chair of the PACE Society, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

In November, 2016, Leamon co-founded The Coven Club, a non-profit that focuses on social equality and the empowerment of women and girls. 

And, more recently, she founded the Women's Association of Criminal Lawyers British Columbia (WACL-BC), which is a peer-driven organization dedicated to the advancement of women in criminal law.”

You can check out the full post, including a personal Question & Answers section, in The Richmond News by clicking here.

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Sarah Leamon
Senate Votes to Pass Bill C-45 But Implements Some Major Amendments In Doing So...

The long road to marijuana legalization faced another critical last step this week as the Senate voted on Bill C-45.

This bill will effectively alter the Criminal Code and some portions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to allow legal access to cannabis in this country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau originally promised that Canadians would be able to light their first legal joint on July 1, 2018. However, given the numerous political and administrative delays that Bill C-45 has faced so far, that deadline is looking more and more likely to go up in smoke.

Honorable senators scrutinized almost every detail of Bill C-45. They have made a number of amendments—more than a whopping 40, in fact!

Now you don’t need to know about all of these amendments. Many of them are merely technical in nature and will have little effect on the bill or your experience of it. But some are rather important and worthy of our attention.

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Sarah Leamon Law Talks Radio - Episode 3

Welcome to Sarah Leamon Law Talks Radio!

In our third instalment, I explore the sex work in Canada and how its on-going criminalization continues to impact vulnerable members of our community. To help move the discussion along, I am joined by two intriguing guests, both with unique understandings about what it means to be a sex worker in this country.

My first guest is Carmen Shakti, who is a sex worker.  Carmen shares her experiences in the sex work industry and dispels many myths & stereotypes while doing so.

My second guest is Caroline Doerksen, a community educator from PACE Society.  Caroline dives into how criminalization impacts sex workers and discusses recent developments in international law that impact the sex work community.  Caroline offers suggestions for how to better address this issue in the future.

Follow the link to listen as we explore the politics, policies and laws around sex work.

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Sarah Leamon
Trudeau Government Must Go Further To Expunge Criminal Records Related to Sexual Orientation

Late last year, Justin Trudeau offered up an official apology to Canada’s LGBT community. In it, he acknowledged the historical persecution and systemic discrimination that LGBT Canadians have faced throughout the years. 

The Liberal government also came up with an action plan to help right some of the wrongs suffered by LGBT people, as best it could.

Part of that action plan included Bill C-66. This bill was introduced in order to help wipe away criminal convictions that arose out of inequitable and discriminatory laws, which were historically targeted at the gay community. 

But some LGBT advocates, including the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, are unhappy with the bill and are saying that it simply doesn’t go far enough to undo past injustices.

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Sarah Leamon
When is Justin Trudeau going to make a priority of sex workers' safety?

The Liberals took a hard stance against our former federal government's ill-conceived “solution” to sex work. They stood firmly in opposition to Bill C-36, otherwise known as the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.  

During the election campaign, they made pledges to support the decriminalization of sex work. However, upon assuming government, it appeared to take a back seat to more pressing issues.

But we should not lose focus on this important topic. After all, the ongoing criminalization of sex work in this country is causing real harm to real people. 

This is particularly so due to the recent passage of two controversial bills south of the border: Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and Fight Sex Trafficking Online Act , or SESTA/FOSTA

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Sarah Leamon
Sarah Leamon a Finalist in Canadian Lawyers Magazine Top 25 Most Influential

Last week, Sarah Leamon was announced as a finalist in Canadian Lawyers Magazine's 'Top 25 Most Influential' list.

The list consists of various members of the legal community, all who have contributed to the practice of law in some remarkable way over the last twelve months.

Sarah has been added to the list as a finalist due to her on-going work in criminal law.  But it's her involvement in the community that really makes her stand out.  

You can learn more about Sarah by reading her bio on the Canadian Lawyer Magazine website, which can be found by clicking the link.  

You can also vote for Sarah here.  You will find her name listed in the Advocacy, Human Rights & Criminal category on the fourth page of the survey.

Voting closes on May 22, 2018, so be sure to get your votes in right away!

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Sarah Leamon
How Will Cannabis Legalization Change Your Rights As An Employee?

As cannabis legalization inches closer, many unanswered questions remain. One of the most interesting questions has to do with worksite safety and privacy rights.

What kinds of privacy rights will employees have when cannabis is legal? Will employers be able to drug test their employees in the interests of workplace safety? If so, how will they test for the drug and what kinds of consequences could users face?

I sat down with Angela Kokott on Global News Radio to answer these questions...and many more.

Listen to the full interview by clicking here.

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Sarah Leamon Law Talks Radio - Episode 2

Welcome to Sarah Leamon Law Talks Radio!

In our second instalment, I explore the topic of cannabis legalization in Canada with a focus on British Columbia. To help move the discussion along, I am joined by two fascinating guests from different sides of the cannabis spectrum.

My first guest is Tamu Stolbie, who is a new cannabis user.

My second guest is Craig Ex, host of Expert Joints. Craig is a cannabis expert, enthusiast and long-standing member of the cannabis community. Craig shares his opinions about how our governments proposed regulations around cannabis may affect users - for both the positive and the negative.

Follow the link to listen as we dive deep into the hazey politics, policies and laws around cannabis.

Hope you enjoy and thanks for listening!

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Coming to a Road Near You - 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibitions for Cannabis

On April 26, 2018, the B.C. provincial government announced their plan to deal with legal cannabis.

The bill deals with various social issues, from where a person will be able to legally smoke cannabis to how dispensaries will obtain licenses.

It also dealt with the issue of drug impaired driving and the government officially announced their intention to create a 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme for drug impaired drivers.

I sat down with Roundhouse Radio's Gene Valaitis this morning to talk about the future of impaired driving in this country and what it all means for cannabis users.

You can listen to the full interview here

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The Victim Fine Surcharge is Unfairly Punitive for Marginalized Offenders

Unless you’ve experienced the criminal justice system firsthand, “victim fine surcharge” probably doesn’t mean very much to you.

The money collected from these surcharges is used by the government to fund victim-services programs. And while this seems like a good idea in theory, making it mandatory ultimately does more harm than good in practice because judges have no discretion over them.

This means they cannot do anything to avoid imposing such fines, even in circumstances where an offender is financially destitute and unable to pay.

Marginalized offenders end up being bogged down by insurmountable debt…and they could face further jail time for nonpayment. 

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Sarah Leamon
Canada's Surrogacy Laws are in Dire Need of Reform

A Liberal MP is trying to change Canada’s surrogacy laws and expand reproductive rights for Canadians. Anthony Housefather has announced his plans to introduce a private member's bill, which would repeal the current legal prohibitions against paying for a surrogate.

Current laws are surrogacy in Canada are vague...and simultaneously harsh. 

If a person is found guilty of such offences, the penalties are severe. They could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a $500,000 fine.

Ultimately, there is no need for this kind of paternalistic legal intervention and the laws are in dire need of reform.

 

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Sarah Leamon
Bill C-75 offers mixed bag of reforms but fails to address key factors behind delays in justice system

Last week, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced a massive, 300-page bill, aimed at  overhauling our criminal justice system.

While many aspects of Bill C-75 are intended to curb courtroom delay, others are focused on ending intimate partner violence and diversifying juries.

But will this legislation be effective in achieving its objectives?

Some critics are doubtful…but while the bill is far from perfect, there are some positives aspects.

I read Bill C-75 over the weekend so you don’t have to. Here’s what you need to know...

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Sarah Leamon
Sarah Leamon Law: Law Talks Radio - Episode 1

Welcome to Sarah Leamon Law: Law Talks Radio!

On our very first episode, I am joined by two guests to discuss the issue of both drug and alcohol  impaired driving under the 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme.  

My guests and I explore how the law is currently enforced under the Motor Vehicle Act in the province of British Columbia. We also touch on the future of drug impaired driving law, given the impending legalization of marijuana in Canada.

You can stream Episode 1 by clicking on the link.

I hope you enjoy, and will tune in next month when I dive deeper into the issues around cannabis & the law!

Thanks for listening!

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Sarah Leamon
Power & Politics - Bill C-46 and the Future of Drug Impaired Driving in Canada

On March 30, 2018, a special edition of Power & Politics, focusing on the future of cannabis in Canada, aired on CBC.

I was invited on the program, along with Professor Robert Solomon, legal director for MADD Canada, to debate the future of drug impaired driving in Canada.  

While Professor Solomon supports a zero tolerance approach to drugs and driving, and total criminalization, I make a case for more principled measures to educate and deter people from mixing marijuana and motor vehicles once the drug becomes legal.  

You can watch my appearance, starting around the 12 minute mark, by clicking the link.

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Sarah Leamon
Calling All Women In Criminal Law

Last week, I launched the Women's Association of Criminal Lawyers - British Columbia.

This peer-driven, non-profit organization is geared towards the advancement of women in criminal law.  

WACL-BC has been developed as a ground-up organization that is driven by the women whom it serves.  It is committed to fostering diversity within the criminal bar and to creating a
supportive community of female criminal lawyers. 

So...WACL-BC wants to hear from YOU!  Please weigh in and let your voice be heard.  We welcome all women who practice in the area of criminal law, and we are a LGBTQ2 inclusive space.  

Check out our website for more information, and join the movement.  

Together, let's raise the bar for women in criminal law!

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Sarah Leamon