Russell Bennett, B.Sc., LL.B., became a lawyer in 1997, prior to establishing a career in film, theatre and documentary production.
In 1998, Bennett produced and directed the documentary STONED: Hemp Nation on Trial, which followed the test case and trial of Christopher Clay, owner of Hemp Nation, Canada’s first Hemp Store. STONED premiered on CBC and was nominated for Best Political Documentary at Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival.
In 2004, after practising bankruptcy law for a couple of years, Bennett created the award-winning multi-character solo play, The Reefer Man, about a bankruptcy lawyer who was also a secret award-winning underground cannabis grower. Bennett toured the underdog superhero play to Fringe Festivals and professional theatres across Canada, winning awards and selling out houses.
Eventually in 2013, Bennett went back to practising law in document review, bankruptcy and insolvency law, and then fraud recovery law. In 2016, Bennett defended a chain of cannabis stores, and realized that he needed to become a cannabis lawyer.
On April 20, 2018, Bennett created his own firm, Cannabis Law, Barristers & Solicitors, to give entrepreneurs and small businesses the tools to grow and to protect themselves in the cannabis industry regarding litigation, regulatory matters, licence applications, employees, intellectual property, land use planning, asset protection and partner/shareholder issues. Cannabis Law also challenges questionable cannabis laws under Canada’s Constitution.
Bennett wrote the book Canada’s Cannabis Act: Annotation & Commentary so he could help people understand how Canada’s version of legalization works, and doesn’t work. Bennett also blogs and hosts the podcast Cannabis Law in Canada right here at cannabislaw.ca.Contact Russell
Student at Law
We are excited to welcome Henria as our new articling student! Prior to law school, Henria worked in the Agriculture, Healthcare and International Development Sectors for nearly 20 years over three continents. She has worked in small grassroots organizations and large multinational corporations. She is a champion of justice and fairness and returned to law school to hone her advocacy skills.
Before joining Cannabis Law, Henria volunteered at a social justice focused sole practitioner’s law firm, whose practice areas included Civil Litigation, Human Rights and Labour & Employment. She also attended The Michener Institute, and successfully completed Health Professional’s Introduction to Cannabis to better understand the medicinal and therapeutic uses of Cannabis.
As an articling student working jointly with Cannabis Law and Lewin & Sagara, Henria is happy and committed to this industry and her wonderful teammates.
When not learning more about cannabis and psychedelics, Henria enjoys genuine connections, memorable meals and marvelling at the universe.
Lawyers in Association with Cannabis Law
Josephine de Whytell, J. de Whytell Law
Josephine is from the County of Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. She grew up in Leeds, and earned a government grant to enable her to attend Leeds Girls’ High School, where she completed her GCSE’s and A-levels. She worked at her parent’s art shop on the weekends, painting and making hand-made cards, and worked as a legal assistant immediately following high school, and during all her breaks from university. Josephine attended the University of Keele, in England, and graduated with a degree in Law with Philosophy.
After completing law school, she moved to Saskatoon in 2008 and began working as a legal assistant at Semaganis Worme Legal. She completed the Canadian National Committee on Accreditation process and articled under Donald E. Worme, Q.C., IPC (Queen's Counsel and Indigenous Peoples Counsel). Mr. Worme, Q.C., IPC was former Commission Counsel for the Ipperwash Inquiry, Stonechild Inquiry, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and represented the Assembly of First Nations in the Provincial Missing and Murdered Women Inquiry in British Columbia.
As a paralegal and articling student, Josephine became acquainted with the array of unique and distinct First Nations and Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan, and has focused her legal practice towards advocating for Indigenous clients in areas of constitutional law, criminal law, child welfare law, and litigation, as well as First Nation elections.
Josephine was called to the Saskatchewan bar in 2012 and continued to work at Semaganis Worme Legal representing various First Nations, Tribal Councils, Indigenous organizations, and individuals facing discrimination in the justice system. Josephine acted as counsel for the deceased’s family in the Kinew James Inquest and has been engaged in various litigation and appeals across the country defending the inherent rights of First Nations to regulate child welfare in their jurisdictions.
As well as position papers and legal opinions, Josephine has also drafted and delivered presentations, articles and speeches on the subject of inherent and Treaty rights, restorative justice, militarization of the police, gaps in the prison system, and genocide, among others. In 2018, she testified before the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, and the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples with respect to proposed Cannabis legislation, as a witness for the Indigenous Bar Association.
As a non-Indigenous honourary member of the Indigenous Bar Association, Josephine understands her Lawyer’s Oath as comprising an additional element whereby she is accountable to the Indigenous communities she represents and has a duty to do no harm to Indigenous peoples, rights, or interests with the knowledge and skills she has gained throughout her practice.
Josephine began working at Hensel Barristers in Toronto, in 2016, alongside Katherine Hensel, a Secwepemc (Shuswap) lawyer whose practice has focused on serving Indigenous clients in furtherance of inherent and Treaty rights.
In 2019, Josephine established J. de Whytell Law, where she continues to serve a diverse array of clients and is committed to challenging systemic discrimination and advancing First Nation rights to self-determination.
Tamar Friedman is a Toronto-based lawyer practicing in the areas of cannabis defence, police and State accountability, and civil litigation. This includes Charter litigation, public interest litigation, human rights law, and regulatory defence. Tamar was called to the bar in 2016. She practiced as a civil litigator on behalf of the Province of Ontario from 2016-2018 where she specialized in human rights law, OPP defence, personal injury, and corporate/commercial litigation. Since 2018, Tamar has assisted self-represented litigants through her access to justice law practice.
Kanchan Dhanjal, JD
Kanchan Dhanjal, JD, is a criminal lawyer who has worked under the direct supervision of Professor Emeritus Alan N. Young over the past five years. As a result, she has developed a comprehensive understanding of cannabis law, and has extensive knowledge about the legislative framework that governs the production, distribution, and sale of cannabis products. Kanchan's work with Professor Young has required her to liaison with a wide variety of public officials, judicial administrators and senior executives. Moreover, she has been involved in the representation of multiple underground producers, and has provided legal advice to various entities looking to transition from the gray market into the legalized cannabis regime. Kanchan also works for victims' rights, and against wrongful convictions and police misconduct.