Thinking of crossing the border this fall? Leave your pot at home if you want to save yourself a lifetime ban from entering the States.
In case you missed it: North Americans don’t seem to care about crossing the border with pot. This, according to the events of the past 2 months – which saw more than 1 person facing lifetime bans from the States for getting caught with cannabis products in tow. These people were basically made an example out of in the media, and one of them got off easy, but LET this be a lesson to us.
Even after Canada’s legalization of recreational pot in October 2018, the laws at the border have stayed the same – as in, taking cannabis across Canada’s international borders, whether you’re leaving or entering, is illegal. It doesn’t matter if you’re travelling from places that have legalized cannabis, or if the cannabis you have is for medical purposes. Trying to get on a plane (or drive across the border) with pot in any form in any amount could result in legal prosecution and fines, and possibly jail time.
What happens if you manage to make it through to say, Amsterdam with a couple grams of pot on your person? According to the Canadian government cannabis and travel page, each country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders – the government of Canada can’t intervene on your behalf if you don’t meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements. Travellers are responsible for learning about the laws of the countries they intend to visit.
It might seem obvious to some, but to others, it’s not. Like the 21-year old Canadian woman who got caught in Washington with a bottle of CBD, who ended up risking a lifetime ban. “I didn’t think anything of it. I just always have it on me because I take it daily… I didn’t fully understand that I needed to declare it,” she said. The woman said she knew loose cannabis and joints are prohibited at the border, which is clearly articulated in the signs at the border warning travellers not to bring them, but she didn’t realize the same rules apply to the CBD oil she uses for medicinal purposes.
So, yes – in a time when you can find CBD knockoffs on many cosmetics and health food store shelves, questions around the legal status of CBD are fairly common. But the bottom line is: Currently, CBD is regulated in the same manner as THC in Canada, and it is illegal to cross the border with any form of cannabis. The woman was fined $500 for failing to declare the oil, fingerprinted, denied entry to the U.S. and sent away with an application for a waiver that she’ll have to complete if she ever hopes to regain entry to the U.S.
The application used is required for all people denied admission to the U.S. after deportation or removal. The process to gain reentry is an arduous one – and comes with a $600 price tag. The U.S. government demands a criminal record check from the RCMP, letters of reference, a letter of remorse for past wrongs, proof of employment and documentation outlining a person’s residence and work history. Flying is arduous enough. Spare yourself the risk, and don’t try your luck.
However: You can bring weed on domestic flights, so if you’re planning on a Canadian getaway this fall or winter, feel free to bring legal amounts of recreational cannabis (up to 30 grams) in your checked or carry-on baggage. All you need to do is adhere to the existing rules concerning carry-on items – liquids can’t exceed 100 ml, which obviously applies to cannabis oil. Place it in a closed and re-sealable plastic bag and you’re good to go.
If you’re travelling with medical marijuana, you’ll be asked to present medical documentation when the amount declared or discovered during screening appears to be more than the legal limit for recreational cannabis.
Got it? We didn’t come this far only to take a major step back for ourselves. Protect yourself and be smart when it comes to travel.