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Prepare To Be Asked If You're Carrying Cannabis At The U.S.-Canada Border

Canada-bound? Leave your cannabis at home.

This is the message that the Canada Border Services Agency is hoping to convey through augmented questioning and new signage at the border.

Peter Hill, associate vice-president of the Canada Border Services Agency, recently told the House of Commons’ public safety committee that travellers to Canada will routinely be asked whether they are carrying cannabis as the country prepares for next summer’s recreational cannabis legalization.

Hill also said signs will be posted at major entry points to remind travellers that - per the proposed Cannabis Act - it will remain illegal to internationally import or export cannabis and related products without a valid federal permit. 

The agency will also be launching a social media campaign to make sure travellers “are aware of the new legislation and the requirements.”

As part of the Liberal government’s plan to legalize cannabis for recreational use by July of 2018, more than $110 million is being granted to Public Safety, the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency to ensure organized crime stays out of the legalized system and cannabis doesn’t illegally cross borders.

“The intent of the cannabis-related question is to encourage traveller compliance regarding importations of cannabis and provide travellers with the opportunity to declare whether or not they are in possession of cannabis,” border agency spokesman Jayden Robertson told Global News in an email, adding that the agency hopes this new campaign will cut the risk of “unintentional violations” of the law.

In the past, Canadians have been turned away from the U.S. border merely for admitting they’ve consumed cannabis. This is because, despite the fact that cannabis is legal in one form or another in multiple states, it’s still considered an illicit substance at the federal level.

“It wouldn’t be, frankly, appropriate for us to counsel the U.S. about changing their approach,” said Malcolm Brown, deputy minister of Public Safety Canada, recently told the Commons committee meeting.

Brown added, however, that these issues are the subject of ongoing dialogue with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “so they understand the approach and we will continue to encourage them, as they do with us, to be as welcoming and supportive of Canadians crossing the border into the U.S. as we try to be generally with Americans coming into Canada.”

h/t Global News


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