Three Helpful Tips to Keep Children Safe Around Cannabis

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.

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Sarah Leamon
Controversy Over a Convicted Killer at the Calgary City Teacher's Convention

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 Centrewas 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.  

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Sarah Leamon
Courage, Healing & Why the Humboldt Guilty Pleas are Important

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.

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Sarah Leamon
Answers To The Top Five Questions About Canada's New Impaired Driving Laws

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!

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Sarah Leamon
The New Rules for Cannabis Edibles and Concentrates Are Restrictive & Problematic

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. 

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Sarah Leamon
Ending Human Trafficking in Canada and the Continued Debate Around the Morality of Sex Work

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.

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Sarah Leamon
Coming This Holiday Season - Random, Roadside Breath Testing!

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.

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Sarah Leamon
Dude, Where's My Weed? A Brief Examination of Cannabis Shortages Post-Legalization

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?

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Sarah Leamon
Now That Cannabis Is Legal, How Can British Columbians Legally Transport It In Their Cars?

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.

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Sarah Leamon
The Government Will Pardon Some Non-Violent Cannabis Offenders...But Is It Enough?

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. 

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Sarah Leamon
Do We Need to Reconsider the Usefulness of the Notwithstanding Clause?

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.

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Sarah Leamon
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