Five Burning Questions About Cannabis Legalization Answered

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.

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Sarah Leamon
Sarah Leamon Law Talks Radio - Episode 7

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!

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Sarah Leamon
Can Your SmartPhone Help In the Fight Against Drug Impaired Driving?

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…

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Sarah Leamon
Bill C-75's Proposal to Limit Preliminary Inquiries is Likely to Do More Harm Than Good

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. 

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Sarah Leamon
Sarah Leamon Named Winner of Business in Vancouver's 2018 Forty Under 40

Sarah Leamon has been named a winner of Business in Vancouver’s 2018 Forty Under 40!

Every year, Business in Vancouver recognizes forty exceptional young entrepreneurs, executives and professionals for their outstanding achievements in leadership, community contribution, judgement and skill.

Sarah Leamon has been recognized as a leader in the legal community, as well as an entrepreneur and community advocate. Sarah has been practicing as a criminal lawyer since 2011 and co-founded Leamon Roudette Law Group in July, 2018. Sarah is an active community volunteer and sits as the Board Chair at Pace Society in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Sarah most recently founded the Women’s Association of Criminal Lawyers British Columbia and co-founded The Coven Club in November, 2017.

For more information on Sarah, and to see the full list of this years winners, check out the official press release, posted earlier today on Business in Vancouver’s website.

Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting development throughout the remainder of the year!

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Sarah Leamon
Sarah Leamon Law Talks Radio - Episode 6

On this episode, criminal defence lawyer Sarah Leamon is joined by one special guest to talk about a wide array of cannabis issues, but with a particular focus on cannabis tourism.

Miz D, a.k.a Danielle Jackson, a.k.a. Doperah, is a Vancouver resident, born and raised. She has been in the cannabis industry for decades and is the owner and operator of a canna tourism business called Dvibz. Miz D talks about her personal experiences with cannabis use and how she has seen the plant help others. She also talks about the growing potential of canna tourism in Canada and what she thinks we will need in order to succeed as a global canna tourism destination.

The conversation touches on a wide variety of topics this month - and there are a lot of laughs to be had. So tune in...and you just might learn a thing or two!

Tune in here, on SoundCloud, to hear the full episode.

Thanks for listening!

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Sarah Leamon
CTV News: Feds Approve Controversial Roadside Test to Help Cops Catch High Drivers

On August 28, 2018, Sarah Leamon was interviewed by CTV News for an article on the newly approved drug testing device, the Draeger DrugTest 5000.  

The Draeger DrugTest 5000 will be used by police officers for roadside screening purposes and in order to detect drivers who are possibly impaired by drugs.  But there are a lot of potential problems with the device.  

In the article, Sarah is quoted as saying: "I have concerns about the fact that police have never had any on-hand training with them or any experience with them,"  She goes on to say: "I also have concerns about whether or not they will be suitable for our Canadian environment."  This is because the device doesn't work in temperatures below 4 C, and anyone who's had a drink or snack within 10 minutes may have skewed results.

To read the full article, click the link.  

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Sarah Leamon
A Brief Introduction to the Draeger DrugTest 5000

Coming soon to a road near you - the Draeger DrugTest 5000!

This new roadside testing device is set for approval this coming October, but this time, police won’t be testing for alcohol. Instead, the Draeger DrugTest 5000 will be testing for a variety of drugs, including cannabis.

This device should—theoretically—streamline the process of detecting drugs on the roadside. 

It should provide an objective basis for determining whether or not a driver has drugs in their body at the time of testing. It should be much easier for police officers to implement and provide more assurance to drivers that their results, unlike field testing, are not subject to officer discretion.

But that doesn’t mean it will. 

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Sarah Leamon
There Is No Magic Bullet to Reducing Gun Violence in Canada

Tragic news of the recent shooting in Toronto has given many Canadians pause for thought. In the blink of an eye, gun control was at the forefront of our collective cultural conscious and at the tips of our tongues. 

But gun control has been a problem in Canada long before this incident. 

Statistics on gun violence in this country are growing at a rapid pace, and nearly all of our major cities are affected.

So, what’s causing all this gun violence? And more importantly, how can we put an end to it?

The short answer is that there is no easy answer. 

But in order to create a safer future for tomorrow, it is essential that all levels of government—from federal to provincial to local—make gun safety and community support services a priority today.

We simply can’t afford to wait any longer.

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Sarah Leamon
Sarah Leamon Law Talks Radio - Episode 5

On this episode, criminal defence lawyer Sarah Leamon is joined by two guests to discuss the a wide range of topics concerning cannabis legalization.

The first guest, Zia, has just entered the cannabis industry and is hoping to make a career for herself in it. She talks about her aspirations for the future and some of her concerns moving forward.

The second guest, Clara, is an Australian citizen who is living and working in Canada. Clara is well established in the cannabis industry. She talks about her experience working with cannabis thus far, and what its like to be a woman in weed. She also touches on international perspectives on cannabis and provides some insight about what will be needed in order for the cannabis industry to succeed in Canada.

The conversation touches on a wide variety of topics this month - from feminism to board patrol and everything in between. So tune in...and you just might learn a thing or two!

Thanks for listening!

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Sarah Leamon
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