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Category Archive: Opinion

How Canada’s Marijuana Laws Could Change Under Justin Trudeau

One of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s most controversial party platforms was the legalization of marijuana. Now that Trudeau is officially in power, many are wondering how the new leader of the nation will actually go about making cannabis in Canada entirely legal.

While it is impossible to predict exactly what the Prime Minister and his cabinet will propose, based on previous statements and existing structures in other nations, one can paint a picture of just how Canada’s marijuana laws may change in the coming years.

Perhaps the best example of what Canada with legalized marijuana could look like is the state of Colorado. Trudeau has stated several times how he may be inspired by the “Colorado model” when creating the nation’s new stance on cannabis, a system that doesn’t require any official permission to carry, purchase, or grow marijuana.

In Colorado, as long as an individual is over 21 years of age, they can have up to one ounce or marijuana or THC-products on themselves at any time. This regulation applies to non-citizens as well. Growing cannabis is also acceptable, with a limit of six marijuana plants per person, with a total of 12 per residence.

Prohibited under the Colorado model is the smoking of marijuana in any public spaces, much like cigarettes, as is “driving under the influence.” Anyone caught with THC in their system while driving, or with an open cannabis container, can be pulled over and charged.

What will likely be quite different in Canada is how marijuana is sold to citizens. In all likelihood, this will vary per province, much like how alcohol is regulated now. Of course, provincial governments will need to decide if a Crown corporation will be set up to regulate the sale of marijuana, which could result in vastly different approaches throughout Canada.

No matter how Trudeau and Canada’s provincial leaders go about the legalization of marijuana, one guarantee is the taxation of cannabis. The Canadian government will not be passing on the chance to create a form of revenue from a regulated substance; a tax on marijuana is perhaps the only definite reality when it comes to Cannabis in Canada.

Featured image courtesy of: Wikimedia

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Is It Illegal To Share An Online Recipe?

Intellectual property has become a major issue since the dawn of the internet. With so much information at your literal fingertips, and free access by anyone to write or post on just about anything, the clear sign of “who wrote it first” has become incredibly murky. No longer are there physical/print copies of articles, ideas, and stories, and given the ease in sharing that comes with the online format, text that could once be easily credited to a single author or person is now caught up in the world wide web, where origin points can be difficult to discern.

When it comes to journalistic articles, or even blog posts, it’s not that hard of a process to see who originally wrote a piece of text, as a publish-date is typically attached to a piece. But what about a recipe, a listing of ingredients and cooking methods that could have existed years before anyone transferred the information to the online realm? Is sharing recipes illegal? Are you infringing on someone’s intellectual property by copying down a recipe or even posting it on your own site? In short, no, and let me tell you why.

According to the U.S Copyright Office’s online resource, a recipe does not fall under the umbrella of personal intellectual property, mainly because a recipe is essentially just a listing of facts, which no one person can own. “Copyright protection does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds or prescriptions,” and that’s all a recipe really is: a rundown of facts with some names attached.

That isn’t to say you can copy-paste every recipe-related post you see online. While the core recipe itself (ingredients, methods, cooking time) are simple facts, accompanying many recipes (especially on online food blogs) are literary descriptions or anecdotes concerning the dish itself.

So if a recipe-post you’re reading has a little story about the author’s time making the dish, followed by a detailed description of the recipe’s flavours and other like content, then all of that would fall under an author’s literary expression, which is protected against copyright law.

The same can be said for a collection of recipes. So a cookbook can be be argued to have copyright protection, but single recipes (with just bare-bone facts) can’t.

To put it simply, no person can copyright a fact, and recipes are just that, a listing of ingredients that will result in the creation of a certain dish if followed correctly. Just like no person can copyright 2+2 = 4, no one can claim ownership to the ingredients and methods that make chocolate chip cookies. So do feel free to share recipes, just make sure you’re not stealing anyone’s unique insights or expressions.

Featured image courtesy of: Mel B.

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Charleston shooter shouldn’t have been allowed to own a gun

Once again, we are faced with another shooting-spree tragedy out of the US. As everyone deals with the anger and shock of the Charleston church shooting on Wednesday, we are left with the conclusion that with all of this gun violence that has transpired in the last few decades, all of the perpetrators (most of whom have been quite young) have had access to firearms when they clearly shouldn’t have. In the Charleston case, there was even greater legal precedence as to why shooter Dylann Roof shouldn’t have been able to possess a gun, yet there he was.

Back in February, Roof was arrested and charged with possession of a narcotic prescription drug called Suboxone. Because of this criminal record, he is legally not allowed to obtain a gun, as dealers are required to run background checks before sales. So what happened?

Roof celebrated his birthday in April and his father got him, yup, a gun as a present. Unlike buying a gun at a store, there do not have to be any background checks for a private gun transaction in South Carolina (along with 39 other states). Nonetheless, you shouldn’t really be allowed to give guns to people with criminal records but technically, you also aren’t required to ask, so you can pretty much be held blameless.

Obviously, Roof’s father must have known about his son’s recent arrest but as long as he says he didn’t, he’s in the clear. Prosecutors are trying to show that the father did in fact know, but I guess that’s harder to prove than you’d think.

Sadly and tragically, that’s America for you.

Image source: Fortune

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Parents Hope Marijuana Oil is Legalized to Treat Daughter

gavel-marijuana

After a number of prescription drugs had no effect, Thornhill parents Alex and Reagan Repetski decided to try cannabidiol to treat their daughter’s epilepsy.

Also known as CDB, this substance is part of the marijuana plant that doesn’t cause a high, but when mixed with oil can be an effective treatment for patients with severe epilepsy. Since treating their daughter with marijuana oil, the Repetski’s saw massive improvements to their daughter’s condition, and a recent electroencephalogram showed no epileptic activity in her brain.

The catch? There isn’t enough medical evidence to show that this substance is safe and can effectively treat epilepsy. And extracting oil from marijuana is illegal in Canada, even if it’s used for medicinal purposes.

The Repetski’s daughter has a medical exemption allowing her to take marijuana, but she can’t take it as oil because that form of marijuana is illegal, and so the exemption does not apply. This opens the possibility of the Repetski’s getting charged with possession and trafficking. But that being said, the Repetski’s could argue in court that the charges are unconstitutional.

So while the use of marijuana for medical purposes is legal in Canada, there are enough restrictions in place that make it difficult for those who need it, to access it effectively. The only form of marijuana that is deemed legal for medical use is dried, so using it in any other way, whether it’s as oil or as an edible, is still considered illegal. The Repetski’s are hoping that the laws in Canada evolve to make it easier for them and other parents who have epileptic children to access this type of treatment.

For more information on this story, click here.

Featured image source: The Daily Chronic

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Bill C-51: Everything Canadians Need To Know

“Secret police,” “unjust arrests,” “infringement on Canadian rights,” all are terms applied to the Harper government’s newly proposed, and often criticized (for good reason), Bill C-51. None of those descriptions are off-base, so yes, you should be a tad worried if the bill is approved. But before that, you should be informed to ensure Bill C-51, otherwise known as the Anti-Terrorism Act, never gets approved.

Created and promoted by the Harper government with the veneer of protecting Canadians and ensuring national security, Bill C-51 has been heavily scrutinized for its incredibly vague wording and extending the powers of existing government bodies. The result: a bill many fear will allow the government to “justly” infringe on basic freedoms like freedom of expression and personal privacy.

The exact manner in which Bill C-51 will change Canada’s current legal and social climate will be listed below, with the most pressing impacts, at least for the average Canadian citizen, described. There’s a lot to this bill, so if you want to get fully informed, you can read the whole thing on the Parliament of Canada’s website here.

Note that a lot of what I outline below is a more basic summary of an open letter to Parliament written by 100+ Canadian professors. Read the full letter here.

Personal privacy will no longer be an upheld

One of the most troubling aspects of Bill C-51 is its “security-intelligence information-sharing” law that will basically allow the government to access information on any person who may “undermine the security of Canada.” That would make some sense if the bill actually defined what actions could be considered threats to national security. Instead, it’s left incredibly vague, without any monitoring service in place to watch over what the government will or won’t deem as “just cause” to invade a citizen’s privacy.


Acts of terrorism will be “prevented” in the worst way

Under Bill C-51 it will be illegal to promote any act of terrorism, but here’s the kicker: it will be an offence if what you’re doing may lead to an act of terrorism, not if it actually will. Now the vague wording of the bill starts to get really troubling, as it will basically be up to the government to decide whose actions might just possibly lead to a terrorist act, a fluid term which could be applied to almost anyone voicing an opinion not in line with the Canadian government’s.


No clear definition of “terrorism” & freedom-less speech

Worse still is the combined fact that there is next to no official definition of what constitutes an act of terrorism in Bill C-51 and how anyone who approves of or encourages a group/person who could be linked to terrorism could also be persecuted. So, if a protest is deemed “an act of terrorism” than anyone who joins could be deemed a threat to Canadian security. This will also extend to the online world of social media, meaning you won’t even be able to tweet your opinion without possible repercussions.


The scary new powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Here’s one of the major problems with Bill C-51: the incredibly wide scope of powers that will be held by the CSIS. With this bill in place, the CSIS will be a “secret police” able to use (and abuse) the changes to Canadian law listed above for their own ends. As well as being to make Canadian judges “pre-authorize violations of Canadian law” through the granting of warrants, interfere with court cases in many ways (e.g. contaminating evidence), and perhaps worst of all, work in near complete secrecy as no effective government body will be watching over the CSIS’s activities. Kinda scary stuff.


Outreach programs may become entirely ineffective

Bill C-51 is all about preventing terrorism, on paper at least, so it seems quite counter intuitive how the bill may lower the effectiveness of de-radicalization outreach programs. These are programs in place to ensure that youths who display radical anti-establishment views or behaviour that could lead to acts of terrorism are approached by parents and local officials so that they can talk through their issues. A linchpin to these programs is that the youth be able to freely express their ideas and thoughts, which could become a criminal offense under Bill C-51, thus limiting the exchange of ideas and the potential effectiveness “to counter radicalization of youth.”

To help oppose Bill C-51, please head here to sign an online petition rejecting the bill.

Featured image courtesy of: Parliament

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10 Ways to Increase Your Law Firm’s Efficiency

When your law firm is operating at maximum efficiency, your clients will notice. Not only will that strengthen your relationships with them, it means they’ll be more likely to recommend your firm to prospective clients. Fortunately, there are digital resources such as Lexis Practice Advisor that offer all the tools you need to keep your firm in its best shape. Here are ten simple ways to keep your firm in its best shape and keep getting noticed.

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The East Coast Holds Promise for Canadian Law Firms

According to a recent report in the Legal Post, Atlantic Canada is a growing hot spot for practicing law in Canada. Over the summer, Torys LLP opened an office in Halifax, and Cognition LLP set up shop in New Brunswick.

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Be Careful What You Search For at Work

Think using the Internet for personal searches “a minute here or there” while on the job is harmless? Think again. Marc Gravelle, a Human Resources assistant for the Canadian Department of Justice, was let go from his job in July of 2011 for using his computer to fuel his car obsession, download music, complain about his job, and used private documents for personal gain.

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Five Career Mistakes Law Students Make

Law school is a tough place to be, and it’s so easy to get caught up in the goals that need to be achieved by tomorrow, let alone think about what the rest of a lawyering life might look like. To help law students stay focused on their long-term futures, paralegal candidate Kevin Sambrano compiled this list of oversights commonly made by law students when it comes to planning for their careers for Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

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