Why Have There Been No Criminal Cannabis Impaired Charges Laid in B.C. Since Legalization?

It’s been nearly a year since cannabis was legalized, but there have been zero – count that, zero – cannabis-related driving offences laid under our new criminal law…in B.C. at least.

The same cannot be said for the rest of Canada. So, what’s going on?

Are British Columbians just a highly diligent and dedicated group of law-abiding citizens? 

A recent case out of Saanich, where a driver was caught speeding through a school zone while smoking a joint, tends to de-bunk this theory.

So what gives?

Read on to learn more.

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Sarah Leamon
Five Things You Need to Know If You've Been Charged with Assault

Facing an assault allegation can be scary. The process of being investigated and arrested can be a daunting one. You are sure to have questions about what’s going to happen and what to expect.

In order to help you, we’ve put together a short list of the top five things you need to know if charged with assault. From how to act during the initial arrest, to what to expect when you are released, we have you covered.

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Sarah Leamon
Are Cannabis Packaging Regulations Ruining Our Environment?

These days, environmental issues are at the top of everyone’s news feed. With concerns about our planet's future, we are all scrambling for solutions to problems related to the climate crisis.

Among those problems is plastic. 

Plastic waste is poised to become one of the biggest threats to our global well-being. Our federal government recently recognized this dire fact.

Last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government's intention to limit single-use plastics and to make plastic producers responsible for the collection and recycling of their products. Under these new regulations, environmentally harmful single-use plastics could be banned in Canada by 2021. 

But it’s not without ample political irony. 

After all, the Trudeau government has actually worked diligently to create more plastic waste in a key emerging Canadian industry. 

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Sarah Leamon
"Spirits of the Law" - Episode Five - A Tale of Two Petrostates

In Episode Five of “Spirits of the Law,” Matthew and Sarah are joined by Puneet Klar, associate at Sarah Leamon Law Group, to talk oil, politics & the law in two different states; Alberta and Norway. Their conversation is enhanced by a taste test of two different types of Akvavit, the traditional spirit of Norway.

Which Akvavit will win the hearts of the legal team, and which state has done a better job of managing their resources & wealth?

Find out by listening to the full episode here.

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Sarah Leamon
The Five Biggest Fails of Canadian Cannabis Legalization

It’s been nearly nine months since cannabis legalization but things are far from perfect in the great green north.

From distribution issues and shortage problems to concerns over packaging, there has been plenty of cause for concern. The continued criminalization of cannabis and administrative lags on granting amnesty for historical cannabis convictions have also created questions about whether or not we are living in a legalized state of cannabis, or in some new form of legislated prohibition.

In this column, which was published in The Daily Hive, criminal defence and cannabis lawyer Sarah Leamon explores the top ten biggest failures of cannabis legalization so far.

Read on to find out if your biggest gripe made the list.

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Sarah Leamon
Is Bill C-460 The Answer To Ending The Opioid Crisis in Canada?

A Liberal MP from Ontario has introduced a new bill, which is squarely aimed at quelling the opioid crisis in this country.

Nate Erskine-Smith, who represents the Beaches-East York riding of Toronto, tabled Bill C-460 in the House of Commons on June 17, seeking to decriminalize minor drug possession offences. 

While introducing the bill, Erskine-Smith described the opioid crisis as it is: a public health emergency. He cited statistics from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which reports that more than 11,000 Canadians have died from opioid overdoses since January 2016.  There is no debating the fact that we are in the midst of a crisis.

And while blaming drugs and addiction may be temping, the root of this crisis really lies in stigma. 

The stigmatization of drug use is what holds many opioid users back from seeking help.  It also often causes them to isolate themselves, using alone and without any safeguards in place should something go wrong. 

Simply put, stigma kills.

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Sarah Leamon
Does the 28-Day Canadian Flight Crew Ban on Cannabis Consumption Make Sense?

Last week, Transport Canada unveiled a new policy aimed at cracking down on cannabis before taking to the skies.

In an announcement made late last week, the public body stated that Canadian airline and flight crews will be forbidden from consuming cannabis in any form for at least twenty-eight days prior to reporting for duty. With nearly a month between the last allowable consumption time and work, this effectively bans all active employees, even those working on even a part-time basis, from consuming cannabis full stop.

This 28 day ban works in combination with other airline policies, including those of Air Canada and WestJet, which completely prohibit employees in safety sensitive positions from using cannabis altogether, even while off duty.

But is it necessary? And will it stand up to legal challenges?

Read on to find out.

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Sarah Leamon
New ICBC Insurance Changes Could Pack a Punch for People With Traffic Tickets

Starting Monday, June 10, 2019, a ticket could mean more than points on your licence or a hefty fine. Now, the ticket could hit you over and over again in the pocketbook when you pay for your car insurance.

With new changes announced by ICBC, driving convictions will now cost you more for your Collision and Extended Third Party Liability insurance. The tickets will target people with convictions for impaired driving, excessive speeding, and distracted driving. This will include Immediate Roadside Prohibitions, 24 Hour Prohibitions, and cell phone tickets.

Even small tickets could end up costing you big money in the long run.

If you have a ticket, an experienced traffic lawyer can help give you the best chance of avoiding these hefty penalties while keeping your driving privileges in tact.

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Sarah Leamon
Will the Government Do What's Right in the Wake of the MMIW Report?

It’s been a long time coming, and a lot of work in the making, but the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report is finally here.  

After three years of community consultation, testimony and research, the final product comes in the form of a 1,200-page document which makes 231 recommendations for justice.  These Calls for Justice include sweeping changes to culture, health and wellness, media and social influencers, educators, and—of course—police departments and legal services. 

The recommendations are varied and multifaceted, taking into account the all-encompassing and pervasive impact that colonialism has had on Indigenous communities. 

They are also woven together with a common thread of respect, understanding, and connectivity. 

But the bottom line is that, in order for any change to occur, our government needs to be invested in it, which means that it must allocate the money and resources necessary to do so. 

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Sarah Leamon
Five Ways That The End of Canadas Cannabis Prohibition Parallels Alcohol

When Canada legalized cannabis in October, 2018, it ended a ninety-five-year long prohibition.

This has catapulted the government into a new era of cannabis regulation.  Federal, provincial and municipal authorities are all rolling out their own methods of adapting in a post-prohibition environment.

But if history has taught us anything about ending a prohibition, it’s that they don’t go out easily.

Take British Columbia’s liquor laws for example.  Many of the inane provincial and municipal laws that we have on the books today were developed as a result of alcohol prohibition and the attitudes that people carried as a result of it.

Here are the top five ways that alcohol prohibition and cannabis prohibition are alike.

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Sarah Leamon
"Spirits of the Law" - Episode Four - Keefer Sour News Hour

In Episode Four of Spirits of the Law, Sarah and Matthew saunter down the 100 block of Keefer Street, trying out cocktails at The Keefer and Juniper, while examining some interesting legal news that might leave you sour.

Which of these two beloved Vancouver bars will reign sour supreme? And which news item will leave a burn?

Find out by listening to the full episode here.

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Sarah Leamon
Meet Our Summer Student, Sierra Hardy!

Sarah Leamon Law Group is pleased to have a wonderful student join our office for the summer! Sierra Hardy has joined our team and we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce her.

Sierra is a highly motivated law student at Thompson Rivers University. She will be entering into her third year of law this coming semester and expects to graduate in May, 2020. Sierra is passionate about criminal justice, and is particularly interested in issues concerning womens’ rights.

To learn more about Sierra, read on.

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Sarah Leamon
Charged with Sexual Assault...Now What?

With the uprise of the #metoo movement and an increase in allegations of sexual assault consistently spotlighted in the media, it is important to discuss what the legal definition of sexual assault means within the context of the Canadian legal landscape.

What does it really mean?

The legal concept of sexual assault can be convoluted and difficult to understand. It isn’t always clear cut. Often, it boils down to an issue of “he said, she said” and credibility is a factor. Being charged with sexual assault is serious, and can be scary, but is isn’t hopeless.

In this blog post, written by articled student Puneet Klar, readers will learn what consent means within the context of our criminal justice system and what happens following an arrest for sexual assault. They will also learn how our lawyers approach sexual assault cases and what we can do to help.

If you have questions about sexual assault, or if you have been charged, read on to learn more.

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Sarah Leamon
"Spirits of the Law" - Episode Three - Herb & Other Natural Botanticals

In a very special 4/20 episode of Spirits of the Law, Sarah and Matthew are joined by Andrew Forshner, Development Director of the Vancouver Writers Festival to talk about toking during special events in British Columbia, why our liquor laws are still stuck in the Dust Bowl era while most of society just wants to move on to the punch bowl. They also review two BC Spirits from Tofino Distilling, their Natural Botanicals selection.

Listen to the full episode here.

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Sarah Leamon
A New Roadside Drug Testing Device May Be Coming To A Road Near You. Heres What You Need to Know.

he federal government has announced its intention to approve another roadside drug screening device. 

The Abbott SoToxa is currently under a 30-day public consultation period.  It could be approved for use by police as early as May 19, 2019.  If it is, it will join the Draeger DrugTest 5000 as one of only two federally approved drug screening devices in Canada. 

 But what do we know about the Abbott SoToxa?

The short answer is not much…yet.

 What we do know about it, though, is that it has been largely touted as a better device than the Draeger DrugTest 500, which received a relatively frosty reception from police agencies across the country when it was introduced last August. 

 But how will they stack up? 

 Here are six things you need to know. 

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Sarah Leamon
I Have A Cannabis Conviction...Now That It's Legal, How Can I Clear My Record?

If you have an old conviction for cannabis possession in Canada, hope for clearing your criminal record is on the horizon. The opportunity to clear your criminal record could come as early as 2019.

The federal government is working on expediting the pardon process for criminal offences that occurred during the prohibition era. Pardons would strike the conviction from their Criminal Record.

In this blog post, Matthew Naylor writes to answer your burning questions about cannabis conviction, pardons and expungements. Read on to learn more about bill c-93, new legislation and what else needs to be done in order to right historical cannabis wrongs.

At Sarah Leamon Law Group, we know how detrimental a criminal record can be. We work on behalf of our clients to keep updated on the latest legal developments and to pass important information on to you. If you have a cannabis conviction, we can help.

Don’t hesitate to call.

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Sarah Leamon
Online Hate Speech Is On the Rise...But Is There Anything We Can Do About It?

When it comes to the Internet, people often post without pondering; but you may want to think twice about airing certain sentiments online as they could attract criminal prosecution. 

There are three specific circumstances under which police may lay charges pertaining to hate speech. 

The first deals with situations wherein a person either advocates or promotes genocide. This offence is considered to be a very serious one and carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

The other two offences are more common and deal with publicly inciting or promoting hatred. If a person is convicted of committing either of these crimes against an identifiable group, they will face a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

The stakes are high, and the message is clear—hate speech is despicable and will not be tolerated in this country.

So why is online hate speech on the rise? And what can we do to help curb it in the future?

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Sarah Leamon
"Spirits of the Law" - Episode Two - Whiskey Flights & New Bites

Wet your whistle with a tasting flight of British Columbia’s finest (or not so finest) whiskies, care of the Vancouver’s Writers Festival, and whet your appetite for information with an array of legal news from across Canada and around the world.

Matthew and Sarah cover the near-nationwide ban on the commercial sale of hunted meat, the fun reasons you might want to read every single word of your contract, improved archeological protections in B.C., the right to repair electronic devices, the seal hunt and B.C.’s still terrible liquor laws.

Featured whiskies include selections from Shelter Point, Lohin McKinnon, Goodridge & WIlliams, Okanagan Spirits, De Vine Vineyards and Legend Distilling.

Listen here.

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Sarah Leamon
Canadas Tough New Impaired Driving Laws Put Innocent Cannabis Users at Risk

A number of tough new cannabis-impaired driving laws kicked into effect only a few months ago, and already, some Canadians are feeling the burn.

Nova Scotia motorist, Michelle Gray, has been making headlines over the past week thanks to her debacle, which occurred after she identified herself as a medical cannabis patient during a routine road check. 

Although Gray was arrested and investigated for impaired driving in relation to cannabis use, she was not ultimately found not to be impaired - but only after going through an invasive and time-consuming examination process. She was also given a driving prohibition and vehicle impoundment, even though she had not done anything wrong.

If you think this is unfair, you aren’t alone.

Gray plans on launching a constitutional challenge to the legislation that allowed her situation to transpire, but getting a result will take time, which is cold comfort for those who could be at risk today. 

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Sarah Leamon