Recreational cannabis is making Canadian-U.S. border crossing more difficult than ever

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Recreational adult-use cannabis is set to be legal across Canada on October 17, a move that has created tension between Canada and The U.S., especially at the border.

Canadians admitting to previous cannabis use or who are remotely involved with the cannabis industry have been receiving harsh penalties upon attempting to enter the States. Many people are being turned around and receiving lifetime bans from entering the states.

“In addition to those who have used marijuana, Canadians who are involved with the cannabis economy have been labelled ‘inadmissible because they are considered to be living off the profits of the drug trade,” as states in an article by Star Metro Vancouver reporter, Perrin Grauer. “Once banned for life, they must seek legal waivers from an immigration lawyer—good for between one and five years—for the rest of their lives when they wish to cross the border.”

However, Americans interested in crossing and taking part in Canada’s recreational market also need to be cautious when crossing back home.

U.S. citizens who try to bring cannabis back over the border could put themselves at risk of being arrested at the border for drug smuggling or possession, and could face fines or even jail time, even when crossing back into legal states such as Vermont.

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“I think we’re going to have a rough year-and-a-half learning curve as far as the cross-border issues,” said Rino Bortolin, a City Councillor in Windsor, Ontario.

Windsor, just right across from Michigan where cannabis is legal for medicinal use, has been known as a party destination for younger Americans since Canada’s legal drinking age is 19, two years earlier than the legal drinking age in the States. Windsor is now expecting to see an influx of visitors wanting to purchase recreational cannabis.

The additional tourists and revenue is exciting for Canadian cannabusinesses, but visitors will need to be very careful when trying to cross back home.

“Crossing the border with marijuana is prohibited and could potentially result in seizure, fines, and apprehension,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection in a statement. BP is always concerned about criminal activity at our U.S. borders. CBP officers are the nation’s first line of defense, including prevention of illegal importation of narcotics, including marijuana. U.S. federal law prohibits the importation of marijuana and CBP officers will continue to enforce that law.”

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