"Spirits of the Law" - Episode Two - Whiskey Flights & New Bites
Canadas Tough New Impaired Driving Laws Put Innocent Cannabis Users at Risk
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.
Right to Repair Legislation is a Triple Win for Canadians
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.
Introducing "Spirits of the Law" - A Podcast by Sarah Leamon Law Group
Canada is one step-closer to enacting legislation that will make it easier and cheaper to repair broken phones.
An Ontario Liberal MPP is seeking to amend Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act to include the right to repair. This represents the first time that right to repair legislation has ever been contemplated in Canada.
Right to repair legislation makes repairing smart devices more accessible to ordinary consumers, through minimizing the financial cost associated with repairs and the free sharing of repair-related information.
The bill would force brands to provide consumers and electronic repair shops with replacement parts, software, and tools for a fair price and to provide electronic documents—like repair manuals—for free. These steps would help make repairs more cost effective, thereby reducing environmental waste and ultimately benefiting the greater community.
Canadians Need to Seriously Rethink the Role of the Justice Minister
Sarah Leamon Law Group presents “Spirits of the Law”, a podcast about all things legal…and alcoholic in content.
On “SNC-Lagavulin”, the first episode of “Spirits of the Law”, lawyer Sarah Leamon is joined by Matthew Naylor and Ian Bushfield to discuss differing tastes in scotch and a variety of opinions on the developing SNC-Lavalin scandal.
Tune into this aptly named episode to learn more about the affair rocking the Trudeau government, and to find out who will reign supreme in yet another skirmish between 100 year old rivals Lagavulin and Laphroaig.
Three Helpful Tips to Keep Children Safe Around Cannabis
The SNC-Lavalin scandal has exposed much more than just a few cracks in our federal Liberal party; it has rocked some of our most basic assumptions about our parliamentary structure and has left many of us asking what, if any, role the Minister of Justice should continue to serve in this country.
In her testimony before the House Justice Committee last week, the former Minister of Justice delivered one bombshell after another.
But what does it all mean? Will shuffling the cabinet, electing a new government or throwing the Prime Minister out of office help matters?
Chances are no. Instead, structural change needs to happen. Otherwise, the independence of the Attorney General will be nothing more than a political mirage.
Controversy Over a Convicted Killer at the Calgary City Teacher's Convention
A mother in Brandon, Manitoba, is speaking out about a scary ordeal that unfolded in her household after her two young children accessed a hidden stash of cannabis-infused edibles.
Only time will tell whether or not the mother in this case will face charges; and although her alarming experience may be long from over, we can still learn a valuable lesson from it today.
With the recent legalization of cannabis, we can expect it to become an increasingly regular and normalized household item. And, although the government is putting safety considerations at the forefront of developing rules that will govern the production, sale, and promotion of edibles, topicals, and concentrates, it will be almost impossible to eliminate the risk to minors altogether.
The question, therefore, boils down to what parents should do to properly protect their children from accidental exposure to cannabis and cannabis products.
Courage, Healing & Why the Humboldt Guilty Pleas are Important
A gathering of teachers doesn’t normally sound like the kind of event that would attract a great deal of controversy, but the 2019 Calgary City Teachers' Convention is raising some serious eyebrows…and for good reason.
Andrew Evans, who is identified as “Andy” and as a representative of the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre, was going to deliver a speech on adolescent addiction. This all sounds fine, except for one thing…Evans is a convicted killer.
In 2007, Evans brutally beat, strangled, and murdered Nicole Parisien in Vancouver. After he killed her, he attempted to hide her body in some nearby bushes before fleeing to Calgary. Parisien was thirty-three years old. She had been working as a sex worker.
And although a criminal conviction should not forever rob a person of their voice or preclude them from contributing to their communities, the organizers' decision to choose this speaker, at this time, on this topic—without transparency—is problematic. to say the least.
Answers To The Top Five Questions About Canada's New Impaired Driving Laws
On January 8, 2019, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was convicted on 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm in connection with the horrific accident that claimed the lives of so many young men, one woman, and fundamentally altered countless others forever.
It is safe to say that Sidhu, who was fortunate to walk away from the scene more or less unscathed, will not be fortunate enough to walk away from a lengthy prison sentence. A single indictable count of dangerous driving causing death carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment, while dangerous driving causing bodily harm can land a person behind bars for a decade.
By entering pleas, Sidhu is sparing himself, the community and his victims from the pain of enduring a trial.
But why is his decision to plead guilty so radical? And how can we learn from his radical decision to unwaveringly accept responsibility in the face of severe consequences?
Read more to find out.
The New Rules for Cannabis Edibles and Concentrates Are Restrictive & Problematic
On December 18, impaired-driving laws in this country underwent a massive overhaul. Police officers are now able to conduct roadside, warrantless searches to compel drivers to provide a breath sample…and they don’t need to form any grounds in order to do so.
Understandably, this has left a lot of people confused and looking for answers.
In this column, I will attempt to answer the five most commonly asked questions about changes to Canada’s impaired driving laws: (1) How has the law changed?, (2) Why has this happened?, (3) Does this mean that it is now zero tolerance for alcohol and driving?, (4) Can I refuse to provide a breath sample?, and (5) What can I do to protect myself?
Read on to learn the answers to some of your most sobering questions about alcohol and impaired driving!
Ending Human Trafficking in Canada and the Continued Debate Around the Morality of Sex Work
After months of uncertainty, the federal government has unveiled official proposals to legalize cannabis edibles.
The much-awaited scheme was released on December 22, 2018, following extensive research and community consultation - and while it is reasonably in line with what many industry insiders had anticipated, there are still a number of wrinkles to iron out.
Aside from simply setting THC limits per product, they will also establish how products should be packaged and labeled, and what types of additives may be used. Regulations on what will be possible will be strict and many adopt a paternalistic approach to cannabis that is not likely to go over well with producers and consumers alike.
But as more consumers than ever reaching for edibles, and the market for such products expected to reach $5.3 billion by 2020, the government would be well advised to revisit their approach and adjust the rules sooner, rather than later.
Coming This Holiday Season - Random, Roadside Breath Testing!
Earlier this month, the Commons committee on justice and human rights released a report on human trafficking. The document, Moving Forward in the Fight Against Human Trafficking in Canada, was created after several months of community consultation. The objective is reducing—and ultimately ending—human trafficking in Canada.
With 17 recommendations, the report hopes to provide salient solutions to the ongoing issue of human trafficking.
The report also distinguished between human trafficking and consensual, adult sex work. In doing so, it created an important divide between these two issues.
However, it did not go far enough in addressing the harms perpetrated against sex workers by bad laws and how eliminating them could also work towards the ultimate goal of stopping human traffickers.
Dude, Where's My Weed? A Brief Examination of Cannabis Shortages Post-Legalization
This holiday season, police will be armed with a new law to detect impaired drivers.
Starting on December 18, 2018, officers throughout Canada will be able to enforce random, mandatory roadside breath tests for drivers at their discretion.
Right now, police officers’ in British Columbia use the Alco-Sensor FST to test for alcohol on the roadside. In order to administer the test on the roadside, they need to form the grounds to do so. Technically speaking, they need to have reasonable grounds to suspect that the person has alcohol in their body.
The reasonable suspicion requirement is functional on a legal level. It is in place for a purpose. That purpose is to ensure that Charter-protected rights and individual liberties are not improperly eroded.
But on December 18, 2018, this requirement will be done away with and what was once well-established criminal law will become muddied and unclear.
Now That Cannabis Is Legal, How Can British Columbians Legally Transport It In Their Cars?
On October 17, 2018, cannabis was legalized in Canada and the long-standing prohibition against this controversial and powerful plant was officially over…at least on paper.
The legalization of cannabis has not come without it’s challenges.
Perhaps the most immediate - and frustrating - challenge for consumers came in the form of supply shortages.
By all accounts, it looked like the whole country was jumping on the cannabis band-wagon and going up in smoke…but this was not quite the case. The truth of the matter is that government supplies of cannabis were grossly inadequate to meet a relatively modest consumer demand.
As rumours about continued shortages swirl and other countries toy with legalizing cannabis, some have speculated that Canada may already be falling behind in this new and emerging industry.
So what are we to do?
The Government Will Pardon Some Non-Violent Cannabis Offenders...But Is It Enough?
By now, we should all know that driving a motor vehicle with cannabis in your body could result in harsh legal penalties. But what about driving with cannabis in your car?
Now that cannabis is legal, adults are able to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis or its equivalent in public places. However, when it comes to your motor vehicle, there are a number of restrictions about how that should be done in order to properly comply with the law.
Simply having cannabis in your vehicle can constitute an offence.
Here in British Columbia, the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act makes it a ticket-able offence to simply have cannabis in your vehicle, regardless of whether you are consuming it or not.
Read on to learn the three golden rules in order to (hopefully) avoid a ticket.
Do We Need to Reconsider the Usefulness of the Notwithstanding Clause?
Now that cannabis is legal, where does it leave Canadians with criminal records for past pot convictions?
Early on the morning of legalization, October 17, 2018, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale held a press conference to answer that very question.
In his address, Goodale confirmed that the Liberal government will introduce legislation to allow Canadians who have received criminal sentences in relation to cannabis possession to apply for a pardon. He also confirmed that they will not have to pay a fee or wait for a specified time period following their conviction.
So why are some people saying that the Liberals are missing the mark?
The controversy lies in technical legal terminology; namely, the difference between a pardon and an expungement.
Five Burning Questions About Cannabis Legalization Answered
Following the actions of the Ford government in Ontario over the last few weeks, many Canadians are suddenly finding this obscure portion of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on their minds.
Rarely used, the notwithstanding clause is somewhat shrouded in mystery. After all, it has only been invoked a handful of times in Canadian history.
The notwithstanding clause is formally known as section 33 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Simply speaking, section 33 allows Parliament and provincial or territorial legislatures to override certain parts of the charter.
It does this by declaring that one of its laws, or portions thereof, applies temporarily, which nullifies the opportunity for a judicial review of the charter-infringing action. This allows the action to take place unhindered and unmitigated for a particular period of time.
But there are some limits to its scope.
NDP MP Murray Rankin recently brought a motion to examine the notwithstanding clause before the House of Commons standing committee on justice and human rights, which was subsequently defeated by the Liberals.
But the issue may very well be unavoidable.
Sarah Leamon Law Talks Radio - Episode 7
With October 17, 2018, just around the corner, many Canadians are counting down the days to legalization. It won't be long before we will be able to purchase legal, recreational cannabis for the first time.
But many of us are still asking some important, practical questions about how exactly that will happen.
Criminal defence lawyer Sarah Leamon has written this blog in order to help answer some of those burning questions and provide a little bit of clarity about what you can expect in British Columbia — and how you can purchase legal cannabis — on October 17, 2018.
But whatever you decide to do on October 17, 2018, just make sure that you use cannabis responsibly and that you follow the rules!
You can also view this article in The Huffington Post, The Georgia Straight, or The Cannabis Life Network.
Can Your SmartPhone Help In the Fight Against Drug Impaired Driving?
On this episode, criminal defence lawyer Sarah Leamon is joined by special guest Jodie Emery to discuss all things cannabis leading up to legalization in Canada.
Also known as the 'Princess of Pot', Jodie Emery is an international cannabis icon. She shares her opinions with Sarah about legalization - both the positives and the negatives - and talks about the work that has yet to be done. Jodie shares her views on the role is activism and social justice in securing rights for cannabis users and provides advice for the canna-curious.
It's an episode you can't miss and you can listen here!
Thanks for listening!
Bill C-75's Proposal to Limit Preliminary Inquiries is Likely to Do More Harm Than Good
An app called DRUID, which stands for “Driving Under the Influence of Drugs”, is now available to smartphone users for a meagre download cost of just over $5. It claims to help users test for impairment by drugs, including cannabis, by using a serious of games that are designed to test decision-making skills, reaction time, object tracking, and balance.
Although there’s nothing the app can actually do to prevent impaired driving—like locking a user out of their vehicle, for example—it does provide some insight into impairment levels. If used correctly, DRUID users will get an idea of their impairment, or lack thereof, prior to making the decision to get behind the wheel.
And its timing is perfect. After all, in just one month, we can expect a big crackdown in drug-impaired driving enforcement on our highways and roads. Following legalization of weed on October 17, police will be on the lookout for cannabis-impaired drivers and will likely be eager to enforce new impaired-driving rules.
Is DRUID the answer we’ve all been looking for?
To learn more, read on…
Bill C-75 aims to restrict the availability of preliminary inquiries. If it passes, they will only be available for offences committed by adults and punishable by life imprisonment. The bill also seeks to strengthen the judge’s powers to limit the range of issues that are explored in such inquiries, including the list of witnesses to be called.
Supporters of these amendments say that restricting preliminary inquiries will help to curb delays in the justice system.
But there is also evidence to suggest that restricting these inquiries may actually have the opposite effect of what is intended by Parliament; it may actually contribute to delay.
Instead of limiting access to justice by eroding the preliminary inquiry process, the government should rely on other, more practical techniques in order to combat delay and improve trial efficiency. After all, the answer to the issue of delay in our criminal justice system does not lie in a single answer. The causes of delay are multiple and varied, and a multifaceted approached should be adopted.