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Caution urged when crossing Canadian border

Pot policies may change by 2018

U.S. and Canadian border authorities continue to crack down on people bringing marijuana products into their respective countries, no matter the citizenship.  ( )
U.S. and Canadian border authorities continue to crack down on people bringing marijuana products into their respective countries, no matter the citizenship. ( )

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to remove cannabis possession for personal consumption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances nationwide Act, perhaps as early as July 2018.

This will effectively make cannabis legal to anyone of age. The current proposal says the cut-off age is 18, although provinces could be allowed to be more restrictive and raise the age or add other conditions.

The new rules likely won’t go into effect until at least July 2018, however, so dispensaries are still operating outside the law.

Currently the only legal way to obtain cannabis in Canada is to get a prescription, and producers with medical production licenses ship their product directly to patients.

People can also visit dispensaries, even though they are technically illegal. Edibles and concentrates are also illegal.

Until the law changes, Trudeau has been reminding and encouraging the country’s police forces to continue to enforce current law and criminally charge illegal storefronts. Some are doing so, especially in Toronto, where authorities recently raided several cannabis dispensaries, including five locations of the Cannabis Culture.

Raids of Cannabis Culture shops also occurred in Vancouver, and another in Hamilton, Ontario.

Marc and Jodie Emery, who were said to be linked to Cannabis Culture, were arrested and charged for trafficking and other violations last spring, and were later released on bail.

As a result of these raids and their longtime advocacy for legalization, the Emerys have also become a kind of symbol for the fight against enforcement, and Marc Emery now even has the nickname “Canada’s Prince of Pot.”

Although raids have taken place, no convictions of dispensary workers have taken place as of press time.

If you are traveling to Canada and intend to sample the country’s cannabis wares, you should know that it is illegal to transport cannabis and cannabis products to or from Canada.

Likewise, people crossing into the U.S. from Canada at legal checkpoints in Washington will first face the U.S. Border Patrol, which follow federal statutes, not state laws. That makes all marijuana products illegal.

Border agents from both countries are acting in the interests of either federal government, and they more than likely will consider any cannabis-related activities and possessions illegal. Even stating that you’re seeking cannabis or a place to enjoy it could possibly raise big legal flags.

You are not doing yourself any favors by talking to border control agents about cannabis use or activity, even as a joke. You may find yourself delayed, you and your belongings searched, or your movement across the border restricted or even denied – even by a half-hearted pot joke. Any amount of possession could also earn everything from a citation and confiscation to arrest.

People caught entering Canada with any amount of cannabis will most likely be turned away at the border. Canadian authorities generally are more attuned to search for firearms than cannabis, but they will still send you home.

U.S. citizens returning south can’t be denied entry because of cannabis possession, but they can be fined. Non-citizen U.S. residents could also potentially face deportation. Even admitting to having used cannabis in the past could affect future applications for legal or permanent residency.

Also, Canadian residents suggesting to U.S. authorities that they’ve used marijuana in the past can be banned entry into the U.S. permanently. There’s a loophole through which they can apply every year, but it’s $585 plus legal fees.

Tags: marijuana

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