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Canada has long been America’s second-favorite source of foreign marijuana (after Mexico), but Washington state’s legalization of non-medical sales of the drug has now created the potential for traffic in the other direction. In an effort to nip any such traffic in the bud, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is reminding would-be marijuana tourists that taking cannabis north isn’t any more legal than smuggling it south.
CBSA Makes it Clear, Importing Drugs is a Crime
A recent statement by the agency makes it clear that possessing marijuana remains illegal in Canada, importing illegal drugs is a crime, and strict enforcement of the law will continue at border crossings. Saying that “nothing has changed” from its perspective, the CBSA warned that its agents will arrest “anyone found smuggling drugs”. Prosecution could follow depending on the circumstances, and at the very least those caught with cannabis will face heightened scrutiny on subsequent trips.
In fact, tourists trying to take home a toke from Washington state may be lucky if they reach the Canadian side of the border at all. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has pointed out that marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law and said that its enforcement of that law will be “unchanged”. Besides criminal charges, Canadians who violate the law could face a ban on future U.S. visits.
Washington State Retailers Have a Message
Washington state’s new marijuana retailers say they welcome Canadian customers, but don’t want them to get in trouble. Aaron Nelson of 2020 Solutions, which now sells marijuana in Bellingham, had this advice: “Don’t take it home . . . understand that the products are for consumption in the state of Washington.”
Although highly anticipated, last Tuesday’s roll-out of legal marijuana sales ended up being rather subdued, with just a few of the first 24 licensed sellers managing to open for business as scheduled.
Coincidentally, Canadian marijuana activist Marc Emery was released from an American prison the following day and is now awaiting repatriation. Emery, 56, had been imprisoned in the U.S. since 2010 after having been extradited on a drug distribution charge to which he plead guilty.