As many Albertan’s are aware, the legalization of cannabis is due to come into effect summer of 2018. The legislative change has raised numerous questions for Albertan’s pertaining to criminality, possession, usage, and the ability to personally cultivate cannabis plants. The blog will provide a broad overview of what changes Albertan’s can come to expect when cannabis becomes legal.
Current Legal Status
As of April 26, 2018, the current laws and criminal sanctions pertaining to cannabis usage and sale are still in force and effect throughout Canada. Thus, cannabis remains a schedule II drug as detailed in the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. Amnesty will not be provided to those who are currently charged under the Canadian Criminal Code or the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. Currently, individuals possessing and selling cannabis for non-medical reasons shall be acting in an illegal manner. The same logic applies to production and distribution unless expressly authorized, production and distribution shall remain illegal until the proposed legislative changes have achieved royal assent.
Proposed Cannabis Legalization
Upon the Cannabis Act receiving royal assent and coming into force, cannabis possession, purchase, sale, and cultivation will become legal within certain permitted parameters.
Any adult 18 years or older shall legally be able to possess up to 30 grams of legally purchased dried cannabis or the equivalent in non-dried form. The same adult shall if inclined purchase cannabis or cannabis products from a provincially licensed retailer. Cultivation of cannabis plants will become legal, as a residence will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants. A reminder that cultivation is per residence, not per individual residing in the residence.
Public consumption of cannabis will be allowable with certain restrictions. Individuals are allowed to consume cannabis in their residence along with certain public spaces, where smoking tobacco is allowed. Where you cannot legally smoke cannabis will include any hospital, school, or childcare property. Prescribed distances will be implemented where cannabis consumption will not be allowable such as around playgrounds, sports field, skateboard park, zoo, or outdoor theatre. Unlike tobacco, a full-ban will be implemented on smoking cannabis in any vehicle. Furthermore, municipalities may implement restrictions that are deemed appropriate. The purported purpose of the legislative restrictions is to limit second-hand exposure and the protection of children.
Any individual found to be driving under the influence of cannabis will be charged with a criminal offence and faces possible license suspension, fines, or even a period of incarceration. Being under the influence of cannabis will negatively affect motor-skills, placing all motorists at risk. Plan ahead and either designate an individual to remain sober, take a taxi, or public transportation.
Soon, Albertan’s will be legally allowed to purchase, possess, consume, and cultivate cannabis. If individuals, ensure they adhere to all restrictions and legislative guidelines no issues will arise. Failing to adhere to such rules, will still expose individuals to criminal sanctions. Ignorance of the law is not a valid defence. If an individual is unsure as to the legality of their action, it is incumbent upon them to undertake the necessary steps to discover the pertinent information.
Craig Donkin is a Student-at-Law with Rowanoak Law Office LLP.
In family law, a lot rides on disclosure of financial information. To properly determine child support, spousal support, and division of matrimonial property it is imperative that accurate information about income, assets, and liabilities of both parties are shared. Without this information being shared, it is very difficult to make any headway in resolving matters.
When complete and accurate disclosure is not provided, the matter can get bogged down. Costs go up unnecessarily, emotions are enflamed, and resolution becomes nearly impossible.
DUTY TO DISCLOSE
As if there was not already reason enough to disclose, there is a statutory obligation to provide disclosure.
For instance, sections 21-25 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines provide statutory authority with respect to the obligation to provide disclosure to determine child support.
Section 21 indicates that the following disclosure is required to determine child support:
(a) a copy of every personal income tax return filed by the spouse for each of the three most recent taxation years;
(b) a copy of every notice of assessment and reassessment issued to the spouse for each of the three most recent taxation years;
(c) where the spouse is an employee, the most recent statement of earnings indicating the total earnings paid in the year to date, including overtime or, where such a statement is not provided by the employer, a letter from the spouse’s employer setting out that information including the spouse’s rate of annual salary or remuneration;
(d) where the spouse is self-employed, for the three most recent taxation years
(i) the financial statements of the spouse’s business or professional practice, other than a partnership, and
(ii) a statement showing a breakdown of all salaries, wages, management fees or other payments or benefits paid to, or on behalf of, persons or corporations with whom the spouse does not deal at arm’s length;
(e) where the spouse is a partner in a partnership, confirmation of the spouse’s income and draw from, and capital in, the partnership for its three most recent taxation years;
(f) where the spouse controls a corporation, for its three most recent taxation years
(i) the financial statements of the corporation and its subsidiaries, and
(ii) a statement showing a breakdown of all salaries, wages, management fees or other payments or benefits paid to, or on behalf of, persons or corporations with whom the corporation, and every related corporation, does not deal at arm’s length;
(g) where the spouse is a beneficiary under a trust, a copy of the trust settlement agreement and copies of the trust’s three most recent financial statements; and
(h) in addition to any income information that must be included under paragraphs (c) to (g), where the spouse receives income from employment insurance, social assistance, a pension, workers compensation, disability payments or any other source, the most recent statement of income indicating the total amount of income from the applicable source during the current year, or if such a statement is not provided, a letter from the appropriate authority stating the required information.
Similar disclosure requirements are also echoed in the Alberta Family Law Act, and section 31 of the Alberta Matrimonial Property Act requires each party to a matrimonial dispute to provide the other party with a sworn statement showing their income, assets and liabilities.
NOTICE TO DISCLOSE/APPLICATION
In an ideal world everyone would voluntarily exchange financial disclosure. However, this not always the case. When disclosure is not voluntarily provided, there is recourse in filing a Notice to Disclose/Application with the Court. This is an application wherein the responding party is required to provide specified financial disclosure within 1 month. The required disclosure is a comprehensive list of statements showing components of income, assets and liabilities.
IF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS REQUIRED
Additional disclosure information, beyond what is covered by the Notice to Disclose, may be sought by application to the Court or via Questioning. Questioning is a formal process investigation wherein a party may be questioned under oath. During this process, the party being questioned may be asked to provide undertakings. This means that they may be asked to provide additional or clarifying documentation.
The guiding principal in what may be disclosed is whether the material is relevant and material. The Court will assess any request for disclosure on this basis.
Michael Dugas is an associate with Rowanoak Law Office who practices Family Law.
The Supreme Court of Canada was recently asked to deal with a criminal law situation involving smartphone security.
An Ontario man who was charged with second-degree murder had his smartphone seized by police. When they attempted
to execute a search warrant to retrieve data on the phone, it was found to be locked using a digital swipe pattern.
When the police applied without notice to the accused for a search warrant, that application was accompanied by another
application to compel the accused to produce the swipe pattern.
The judge hearing the initial applications granted the search warrant but denied granting the assistance order. He left opportunity for the Crown to re-apply for the assistance order, but upon notice being given to the accused.
The Crown re-applied upon notice to the accused.
The motion judge dismissed the application for an assistance order, and the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed that Crown appeal for want of jurisdiction.
Since law dealing with smartphones and other electronic devices are still new and developing, this is a case of interest to those who work frequently with electronics.
Jim is a Partner at Rowanoak Law Office.
Most people assume that you have two options when going through a legal process. The first is that you hire a lawyer for everything to do with the matter. That means having to provide a substantial retainer to a lawyer and continually topping up your retainer as your file progresses. The second option is to not get a lawyer, do it all alone, or with some community supports like Family Justice Services or free legal clinics.
There is another option. The Limited Retainer.
What is a Limited Retainer?
A limited retainer is hiring a lawyer for only one portion of the work on a legal file. The lawyer still charges their regular rate, however, the retainer is lower than the traditional model. The lawyer and you will sign a Limited Retainer Agreement which clearly outlines the scope of the retainer (ie. what they will do for you). The scope can be anything that you need help with in your legal file. It can be as small as filing a document in court for you to having a lawyer attend in court on your behalf for a contested application.
The possibilities are endless. Some examples can include:
The main advantage is cost. You are directly controlling how much you spend with a lawyer. They charge their same rates, but are only doing what was explicitly agreed upon. The lawyer doesn’t have to bring the entire file from beginning to end with each step in between.
Another advantage is time savings. Sometimes hiring a lawyer to do a step in the process, like drafting or filing simple documents or serving documents, may actually drastically cut the time you spend on these procedures and your time on this matter overall. Lawyers do this work every day and therefore know how to do procedural steps and can get them done quickly. In addition, retaining a lawyer on a limited scope to review the file and advise of a strategy may also help you focus your time on what needs to be done and the legal tests to be met.
Finally, limited retainers allow you to be able to appear in court, in questionings, and in other meetings more effectively and efficiently. The limited retainer lawyer can help you with documents, help you prepare for court and even appear in court for you. They can take the guess-work out of the court process or other process that are more complex for a self-represented party to navigate.
How do you hire a lawyer on a limited retainer?
Most of our lawyers will take matters on a limited retainer basis. You will discuss the matter in an initial consultation either on the phone or in person with the lawyer so that they can personalize the limited scope retainer for you.
After the scope is finalized, you will be asked to pay the retainer agreed upon and sign the Limited Retainer Agreement.
Contact us if you are interested in a Limited Retainer.
Allison Ross is an Associate with Rowanoak Law Office LLP and an advocate for limited retainers.
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