Recreational Pot Is Coming and Here’s What You Need to Know

The federal government has set a deadline of July 2018 for the legalization of marijuana for recreational usage in Canada. Under the new law, those of legal age to buy marijuana will be allowed to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of marijuana.

However, there are some things that you need to know about the new law. First and foremost, is each province and territory is tasked with developing their own marijuana regulations. This includes setting the legal age as well as how it will be sold and distributed.

For instance, in Ontario, plans call for marijuana to be sold in retail stores that are operated as a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Other provinces are exploring options based on the current medical marijuana distribution models, such as online sales.

Most provinces are using similar age requirements as they do for tobacco. In Ontario, the legal age has initially been set at 19. In Alberta, they have opted to allow those age 18 and older to purchase legalized marijuana.

Even though the legalization of marijuana across Canada for recreational purposes will help slowly drive out the black market, there are still plenty of unanswered questions. The federal government still has not set pricing points or tax rates on legalized marijuana. As the July deadline draws closer it is anticipated the costs and taxes will be released.

In addition, the government has not established any rules on how legalized marijuana can be advertised. They are also still working on what standards they will impose on growers. Although, for growers, it is anticipated they will adapt similar framework already in place for Canada’s legalized medical marijuana standards.

Aside from these challenges, there will also need to be updates made to many of Canada’s laws regarding illegal and controlled substances, as well as impaired and driving under the influence laws. The federal government has not yet determined what limit one would be considered impaired while operating a motor vehicle, nor what precise testing method could be used to determine impairment beyond visual inspections.

Another key issue the federal government and provincial governments are going to have to address are the current illegally ran pot shops in various cities. These shops are not legal and will not be a part of legalized marijuana. Purchasing from these shops after the legalization of marijuana takes effect is expected to still be considered illegal.

In the meantime, to avoid being charged for marijuana-related drug offences or driving under the influence offences, Canadians will have to wait a little longer. While the federal government has a deadline of July 2018, people also need to remember that come July 1st, it does not mean the new laws will take effect. As July draws closer, we can expect the government to provide further updates with an actual start date for recreational marijuana in Canada.

If you have been charged with a drug offence or driving under the influence offence, remember to speak to a qualified Toronto criminal defence lawyer, like Jeff Hershberg. Call 416-428-7360 now to arrange a free consultation!


Sources:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/04/world/canada/canada-marijuana-legal-justin-trudeau.html
  2. https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/new-laws-and-rules-coming-into-effect-in-2018-1.3731434

Is It Okay for Medical Marijuana Users to Smoke and Then Drive?

As the federal government continues to work towards the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes, there has been some changes to the Criminal Code in regards to impaired driving and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The changes in the law are being implemented in order to ensure the Criminal Code has offenses for drug impairments prior to the actual legalization of marijuana. The reason our government is taking this approach is based upon information on what many of the states in the U.S. did after they legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.

For instance, in Washington it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive while under the influence of marijuana. The state opted to expand its “zero tolerance” alcohol policy for underage drinkers to marijuana.

So if someone under the age of 21 is stopped and it is determined they are impaired by marijuana, they are charged. Plus, Washington requires a person to be 21 in order to legally purchase and smoke pot for recreational purposes.

Here in Toronto, medical marijuana users could potentially be charged with impaired driving under the influence of drugs. The offence carries with it the same consequences, if one was convicted of impaired driving under the influence of alcohol.

This means guilty persons could see minimum penalties of $1,000 and up to life in prison for repeat offenders, or in cases where someone was killed or injured by the defendant due to their drug impairment.

Currently, if one is stopped by the police, they can conduct a roadside impairment evaluation. If they suspect someone is indeed impaired, then they may request the driver to complete different types of tests. To screen for drug impairment, police have started using saliva tests roadside.

If the saliva test is positive, then they will arrest you and place you into custody. Once in custody, they should perform a more comprehensive test, like a blood test, to determine the actual types and amounts of drugs in the body.

Additionally, there is debate about how much marijuana one could smoke and not be considered impaired under the law. Part of the debate has to do with how the TCH in marijuana affects a person. If they inhale deeply, hold their breath and only take a few puffs, they could potentially be impaired.

On the other hand, someone that doesn’t inhale as deeply could smoke an entire joint and still be perfectly fine to drive. For now, the laws do not distinguish between impaired by marijuana or other drugs, only between drugs and alcohol.

Until further changes are made to laws, the best advice is if you are a medical marijuana user don’t drive or get a designated driver. If you were stopped by the police and charged for impairment under drugs or alcohol, please feel free to contact me, Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg at 416-428-7360 now to schedule a consultation.

How Alcohol Affects Your Ability to Drive

Alcohol starts to affect our ability to safely operate a motor vehicle after the first drink. The more a person drinks during a meal or while out enjoying the Toronto club scene, the more the effects of alcohol become more noticeable and pronounced.

The last thing a person should do after drinking is get behind the wheel of their vehicle and attempt to drive home. Consuming alcohol and driving do not mix and should be avoided. Driving requires your complete focus and concentration, which you cannot do if you are impaired or drunk.

Concentration

When intoxicated, you are not able to concentrate on multiple tasks simultaneously. It only takes one or two drinks to affect your concentration levels. Driving requires you to focus on multiple thinks at the same time, like your speed, other vehicles on the road, and your location on the road.

Judgment

Our judgement to make rational decisions is altered when we drink. Even when there is low levels of alcohol in the blood stream, our judgment is impaired. Judgement is our ability to make rational decisions, reason, plan ahead, and think clearly.

For instance, when sober the thought of doing an Edge Walk at the CN Tower scares you because you dislike heights. Yet, after consuming several rounds of drinks, now this sounds like it might be fun to do.

Vision

Our visual responses are affected by consuming alcohol. It may take longer to focus our eyes. It can be difficult to determine proper distances. You may even experience blurred vision or problems interpreting different colours.

Coordination

Alcohol affects our motor skills and speech patterns. It can also make it difficult for us to stand up straight, walk, or speak clearly.

Reaction Time

Alcohol slows our ability to react quickly to different stimuli. It takes our brains longer to process what is going on and form an appropriate response.

Comprehension

Our ability to comprehend different images, signs, words, and other such things becomes more difficult the more we drink.

Tracking

Since many of your body’s functions are impaired from alcohol, they make it harder to properly gauge the location of vehicles on the road, intersections, crosswalks, and so on.

There can be serious consequences if you are stopped by the police for erratic driving, like weaving back and forth, or cause an accident involving other motorists. In addition, if you injure another person, whether they are in your vehicle or during an accident, you could potentially open yourself up to a personal injury lawsuit.

Should they die from the injuries you caused, not only could you be sued in civil court by the person’s family, but also be charged with manslaughter by the Crown. Driving while impaired or drunk is never worth risking your life and the lives of others.

If you have been charged with impaired or drunk driving, please feel free to contact me, Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg at 416-428-7360 now to schedule a consultation.

What Is the Difference Between Assault Offences?

There are three distinct types of assault offences as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada which includes:

  1. Assault
  2. Sexual Assault
  3. Domestic Assault

Each one has specific definitions as related to the offence and the type of charges which one could face. It is important to understand the differences between the three, as well as realize there are several different sub-types of assault offences categorized under each one.

Criminal Assault

This is the generalized type of assault used in cases where a person committed the offence for non-sexual and non-domestic assaults. The key factor used to determine whether an assault was committed was whether there was either a direct or indirect force used against the victim without their consent.

For instance, grabbing someone’s arm and applying pressure could be considered a direct force used against the individual. On the other hand, hitting or poking someone with an object, like a hockey stick, could be viewed as an indirect force.

The sub-types of assault offences are used in specific cases when certain actions or outcomes occur as result of the assault. These could include uttering threats, aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm, and assault with a weapon.

In some cases, an individual could be charged with multiple assault type offences. To illustrate someone threatens another individual they are going to cause them harm in some manner either using direct or indirect force.

If they do not follow through, they could be charged with uttering threats. However, if they carry out the threat, they could be charged with both uttering threats and an assault offence, based on if they used a weapon and the types of injuries the victim sustained.

Sexual Assault

With sexual assault offences, there is the added element of a sexual nature regarding the type of force used against the victim. It is worth noting that the law does not have an actual criminal offence for rape, and rapes are considered sexual assaults.

In addition, one does not have to engage in the actual act of sex to be charged with this offence. Simply touching someone in a sexual manner without their consent could be sufficient grounds to be charged with this crime.

Domestic Assault

The key element of this type of assault is when it is committed by an individual against another with a familiar relationship. The victim could be a spouse, partner, child, parent, or other relatives, as well as close friends.

Police agencies and the Crown consider all complaints of assault as serious crimes. The police are required to investigate any claims made by a victim. If there is indeed evidence to support an assault, then it is entirely up to the Crown what types of charges one could face.

If you have been formally charged with an assault offence it is in your best interests to get your own legal advice and counsel. Please feel free to contact me, Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg at 416-428-7360 now to schedule a consultation.

What Is the Difference Between Theft and Burglary Criminal Offences?

Some people mistakenly assume theft and burglary are the same types of criminal offence. However, the Criminal Code of Canada has specifically categorized the offences as different crimes. Each crime has its own definitions and elements that must be present for one to be formally charged.

Theft Offences

A generalized definition of theft is the taking of another’s property without their permission or knowledge as a means to deprive them the enjoyment and use of the property, where the suspect benefits personally in some manner. It is important to stress the benefits one gain does not have to be monetary in nature or involve being able to use and enjoy the property they took.

For instance, you are at a neighborhood cookout and one of your neighbors is busy showing off their new smartphone to everyone. You feel jealous they can afford the latest smartphone. A short while later, you notice your neighbor has sat their phone down and walked off. You decide to take the phone.

After taking the phone, you decide to destroy it by smashing it with a hammer and tossing it into the trash. Even though you did not keep the phone for your own use or try to sell it for a monetary gain, you still have committed theft.

Burglary Offences

With burglary offences, certain elements of theft are also found, like the taking of property to deprive the victim of its use and enjoyment and personally benefit in some manner. However, there is one key distinction between the two crimes: Burglary involves the taking of another’s property with or without the use of direct or indirect force, yet with their knowledge.

For instance, you walk into a convenience store and see the cashier has left the register open. You reach around the counter and pull out the cash, just as the cashier notices what you are doing. You run out the door to make your escape.

This is considered burglary without the use of force because you simply took something and ran. On the other hand, let’s assume you walked into the store and told the cashier to give you all cash in the register or else you would shoot them.

Now you have implied the use of force while committing burglary, regardless of whether you actually have a gun. Furthermore, if you were to cause injury to another during the commission of the burglary, you could be charged with other offences, such as assault, in addition to the burglary offence.

As you can see, while theft and burglar do share some common elements they are different crimes. Regardless of whether one is charged with committing theft or burglary, they should take the offence seriously since there could be severe consequences if one is convicted and found guilty, including varying periods of imprisonment.

If you have been charged with theft or burglary, please feel free to contact me, Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg at 416-428-7360 now to schedule a consultation.