(Canadian Press)

(Canadian Press)

Heading abroad in the legal cannabis era could harsh your buzz

Canadians should be aware of the rules when travelling abroad once Ottawa allows recreational marijuana use at home

“No cannabis at border crossings.” The signs posted on the Canadian side of Ontario’s Thousand Islands crossing into the United States couldn’t be more clear. They’re punctuated with a logo featuring a pot leaf inside a red circle with a red slash through it.

It’s a reminder that even though Canada enters a brave new world of cannabis legalization on Wednesday, these heady horizons do not necessarily extend beyond the country’s borders. So Canadians should be aware of the rules when travelling abroad once Ottawa allows recreational marijuana use at home. Here’s what you need to know:

Legalization

As of Oct. 17, adults in Canada can possess and share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis. They’ll be able to buy it from provincially or federally licensed retailers and grow up to up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use.

READ MORE: B.C. cannabis consumption second highest in Canada

Cannabis to go?

Leave your freshly procured weed at home. The federal government warns that taking pot in any form across Canada’s international borders will remain illegal and can result in serious criminal penalties both at home and abroad.

This is the case even if you are travelling to places like The Netherlands or Uruguay that have decriminalized or legalized cannabis.

The restriction applies regardless of the amount or whether you hold a document authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Only Health Canada has authority to issue permits or grant exemptions in limited circumstances.

READ MORE: Canadian pot workers to be allowed to cross border

Heading to the United States

Many U.S. states allow medical or recreational use of marijuana. But it changes nothing when crossing the border. That’s because cultivation, possession and distribution of the drug remain illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The border falls under federal jurisdiction, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can deny Canadians and other non-citizens entry on a number of marijuana-related grounds.

These include a pot conviction in the United States or abroad, an admission of use without a conviction, or reason to believe you’re a drug addict or involved in trafficking. Or you could be turned away if the officer believes you will violate the Controlled Substances Act — for instance by smoking pot in the U.S., even in a state like Colorado or Washington where it’s legal.

Once ruled inadmissible, a traveller might require a special waiver to enter the U.S.

It’s best to avoid telltale visual clues or saying anything that might prompt questions about drug use. So, no flashing a lighter emblazoned with a marijuana leaf or joking about that Grateful Dead concert you went to in Portland years ago.

The federal government advises Canadians not to lie at the border.

If you don’t like the questions, you have the right to withdraw your request to enter the U.S.

READ MORE: What you need to know about pot on planes

What if I work in the cannabis industry?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says a Canadian citizen working in the legal cannabis industry in Canada will generally be allowed into the U.S. for vacation or business unrelated to marijuana. But a person seeking entry for reasons related to the cannabis industry might be turned away.

Indeed, there have been reports of Canadians being denied entry due to involvement in the U.S. cannabis industry.

Consultant Ivan Ross Vrana says he has not been asked about marijuana upon entering the U.S. about half a dozen times in the last couple of years to meet with people looking to work in the Canadian cannabis industry. Nor has he heard of associates running into snags at the border.

“I think the best policy is to be straightforward,” said Vrana, vice-president of public affairs at Hill and Knowlton Strategies.

“It’s their country, it’s their rules, right?”

Coming home to Canada

Bringing cannabis into Canada will remain illegal, even when travelling from places that have loosened their laws on marijuana use, the government warns.

Canada Border Services Agency officials say they will be asking visitors and returning Canadians whether they have any cannabis with them. They hope the question will reduce the risk of unintentional violations of the law.

If you are carrying pot when you enter Canada, it must be declared to the border agency. Otherwise, you may face arrest and prosecution, the agency says.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Russell Jonathon George Gurney was last seen in Chilliwack in mid-December. (RCMP photo)
RCMP ask for help to find missing Abbotsford man last seen in Chilliwack

Police and family are concerned for the well-being of Russell Jonathon George Gurney

Grade 6 students at Eugene Reimer Middle School have been participating in the Equity Backpack Project. (Submitted photo)
Equity Backpack Project in Abbotsford addresses inclusion and anti-racism

Grade 6 teacher Nerlap Sidhu says she wants students to develop ‘strong sense of self’

The UFV Cascades women’s basketball program has announced the signing of Langley’s Esther Allison and Edmonton’s Charley Arnold for 2021. (UFV Cascades photo)
Langley’s Allison, Edmonton’s Arnold signed by UFV Cascades

Women’s basketball program adds pair of recruits for 2021, reporting to Abbotsford later this year

Abbotsford’s Willow Video location will be closing at the end of the month. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford’s Willow Video closing

Video game, movie retailer closing up shop after more than 20 years

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
Snow forecasted for parts of Lower Mainland this weekend

Environment Canada is predicting flurries and snow from Saturday to Monday evening

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read