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Changing norms

Editorial Obiter

The legal use of recreational cannabis is one indicator of changing norms. One day, it is likely that the one-time criminalization of cannabis will seem antiquated.

In the meantime, media coverage around cannabis is increasing. Thomson Reuters has recently launched The Cannabis Channel, where stories that cover different business elements of marijuana will be explored, from everything from legal approaches to occupational health and safety insights. It’s accessible at, and it’s an excellent source of centralized information on a complex topic.

But is the law shifting in other areas when it comes to reflecting changing social beliefs? In this issue of Law Times, the area of trusts and estates law is explored.

Lawyers say Canadians need to ensure that a changing family structure is accounted for, as they draft their wills, particularly for people who are divorced and separated (and potentially living with a new partner). There’s also the focus on planning around what happens to a person’s digital assets after death.

“I haven’t seen it addressed all that much yet and I think it’s something that’s going to become a much bigger issue than it already is in the coming years just because of the prevalence of digital assets,” says Matthew Urback. Another piece explores if legislation aimed at stopping cyberbullying is effective due to a decision in a sexual assault trial regarding FaceTime.

The story reports that Justice Kelly Byrne found that since FaceTime video is live streaming and not automatically preserved, it is not a “visual recording” as required under the Criminal Code.

These stories and others raise the spectre of changing norms in different areas of our lives and the need for the law to keep pace. If not, it risks being irrelevant.

Law Times Poll

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced that real estate lawyer Doug Downey will be Ontario’s new attorney general. Do you expect Downey to take a substantially different approach to his portfolio than his predecessor in the role?