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Crossing the Border Has Become a Great Hardship for Canadian Medical Marijuana Patients

When Canadian medicinal cannabis patients want to come visit the neighboring United States , they are required to so without their medicine.

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Those of you who follow the happenings of cannabis closely likely know of the budding industry in Canada. Their recently appointed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has become a national treasure in his short time in office, promised to legalize recreational use of cannabis by next year. Their medical cannabis system is already functioning nationwide, and local companies have seen a major increase in market value as impending legalization creeps closer. 

Needless to say, the future of cannabis is looking brighter than ever for Canada, but those wishing to cross the border to visit the United States must remain cautious of what they pack with them. Many medical cannabis patients in Canada dealing with pain relief have made the shift from taking debilitating opiates to cannabis, and their quality of life has improved immensely as a result. But patients wishing to vacation in Florida or visit their family across Lake Michigan have been told to leave their medicinal products at home, regardless of how critical it may be to their well-being. 

For instance, Jan Rieveley is one of many Canadian patients to replace opiates with cannabis. She and her husband have regularly visited Michigan and have family in the United States, but now she is unable to cross the border with the medicine that has revitalized her livelihood.

“As long as you have a legal prescription, I don’t see how anyone should not be able to travel,” she said to the Windsor Star. “If someone wanted to get stoned, they’re not going to get stoned on mine. There’s nothing euphoric — for me, cannabis shuts down the pain centre [in the brain].”

Though her last trip to Michigan ended in discomfort, Rieveley stated that she would never risk getting banned from the United States for bringing her medicine along. Although Trudeau’s Liberal party is in the midst of legalizing recreational cannabis, it remains a Schedule I drug in America. Thus, a Canadian caught with pot at the border could potentially never be allowed back into America again.

Canadian doctors have decisively taken up the role of advising their patients not to risk crossing into the US with their medicinal cannabis. Some physicians, such as the Windsor-based Christopher Blue, have their patients sign consent forms when they’re prescribed medical cannabis that they agree not to try and sneak their product across country lines.  

This issue has already arisen between the borders of Canada and the United States, and it only stands to worsen as Trudeau plans to legalize cannabis recreationally. Many Canadians feel that a mass influx of border turnarounds will come with recreational cannabis, but that this could actually help both countries come to a binational agreement. All in all, Canada looks to be moving forward with cannabis legalization regardless of how the United States government treats it. 

Although this may be painful for Canadian cannabis patients and consuming citizens looking to visit America at first, Canada's example will hopefully eventually have a positive impact on how the United States treats cannabis within their own borders.