The pandemic has meant many things to many people. It’s meant loss, upheaval, isolation. But for those of us who live in the US while still considering Canada “home” (or vice versa), one of the weirdest (saddest, most frustrating) aspects of the last year has been the closed land border between the US and Canada.
Even for those that don’t have family waiting for you on the other side of the 49th parallel, there’s the missed opportunity of cross-border travel – whether for a day or a weekend or longer.
No, we don’t miss sitting in line for our turn to talk to the friendly (cue eye-roll) border guards. And we get it. There were good reasons to keep the border closed. But it sucked, and we’re glad it’s ending.
Whatever your reason for wanting to take advantage of the newly re-opened border, consider this your friendly reminder: bringing cannabis products across the border – either into Canada or the US – is illegal and very much frowned upon by border security.
Yes, cannabis is legal for adults in Canada. And yes, you may be entering Canada from one of the several border states where cannabis is legal. Carrying cannabis products across the international border, however, remains illegal.
This means that if you are caught with cannabis in your car, your weekend away could take an unfortunate turn. You could be searched, fined, detained, and prohibited from entering the country. Not how most of us envision a quick jaunt across the border.
While border towns along the 49th parallel will finally be open for cross-border travel, neither country welcomes cannabis/hemp products crossing the border.
According to Canada’s official government webpage (which goes into great detail on the issue of travel with cannabis), this ban applies:
- No matter how much cannabis you have with you
- Even if you are authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes in any form, including cannabidiol (CBD)
- Even if you are traveling to or from a municipality, state, or country where cannabis has been legalized or decriminalized
Yes, you read that right. This ban on cross-border travel with cannabis includes medical cannabis and even hemp-derived CBD.
This is understandably confusing for people who live in a province or state where cannabis is legal and want to cross the border to another province or state where it is also legal. It is especially confusing that CBD is included in the ban since the substance is federally legal in both countries.
Now, you might ask, what are the odds that your CBD or THC gummies will be discovered? Well, that is a question that you must wrestle with yourself. There’s a good chance you’ll be asked about cannabis possession, though, and lying about it is a crime in itself.
Tim Fair, an attorney and partner with Vermont Cannabis Solutions, has helped many the cross-border traveler who, in our pre-pandemic existence, learned about these laws the hard way. According to Fair, repercussions for attempting to bring cannabis over the border vary:
“You could be declared inadmissible [that day]. You could be banned for life. Or you could be arrested and charged. That will depend on the agent you are encountering, as well as the quantity of cannabis,” he explained. “If you’re talking about a single joint, you probably won’t be arrested, but I doubt you’ll be getting over the border anytime soon.”
So if you want to avoid the anxiety of wondering if you’ll be caught with cannabis, do yourself a favor. Leave it at home.