• Legal Weed 101: Class on cannabis law coming to University of Ottawa
  • May 3, 2018
  • A new law-school class on marijuana that’s budding at the University of Ottawa is being touted as the first of its kind in Canada.


    Two professors will be teaching a brand-new course called “Cannabis Law” in the January 2019 semester. A similar course will be offered in French in September.
    “When we looked at this, we saw one of the most important public policy issues unfolding in our time,” says Adam Dodek, the dean of law at uOttawa.
    The aim of the course is to prepare future lawyers for complications that may arise from the federal government’s planned legalization of marijuana.
    “It’s going to be affecting the everyday lives of Canadians,” said Joël M. Dubois, who will be teaching the intensive two-week course with Megan D. Wallace. Both are Ottawa lawyers at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP.
    “It’s important for law students to understand those impacts, because clients will have questions,” Dubois said. “They already do have questions.”
    Everyday legal implications of the changing law could include repercussions for driving under the influence, how companies can deal with high employees and new bylaws on where and when smoking will be allowed.
    “The course will not be able to contain the whole host of issues that will likely arise as the new legislation unfolds,” said Dodek. Even so, Dodek said he expects there will be a lot of student interest in taking the course.
    Matthew Gragtmans will be entering his third and final year at uOttawa’s law school in September and said he would be interested in taking Cannabis Law.
    “A lot of the laws we study are based on fairly old doctrines and policies,” he said. “It would be an interesting way to learn about how new laws are made and will be interpreted.”
    Gragtmans said he hopes the course will cover how cannabis has previously been regulated, how the law is changing and how the courts will likely interpret these changes.
    Mykelti St-Louis, who is starting law school at uOttawa in the fall, said he’s glad the school has taken the initiative to start teaching about this issue. But as the proposed legislation develops, he also sees the potential to get too far in the weeds.
    “On one hand, we don’t want to be teaching law students faulty or easily-outdated information in a constantly mutating field,” said St-Louis, who started a discussion about the course on an online forum for law students in Canada. “But on the other hand, we also need to be proactive to minimize the gap between the time laws come and the time that it will take lawyers and the legal community to catch up.”
    Bill C-45, the proposed Cannabis Act, is currently before the Senate, where it will be read and reviewed for a third time no later than June 7.