Canada is only two months away from opening the doors on the world's largest adult use cannabis market, prompting U.S. border officials to work overtime to ensure that none of this legal product makes its way over the fence. Even though cannabis is legal for at least medical use in 30 U.S. states, the federal government still prohibits all forms of cannabis entirely, so bringing cannabis products legally purchased in Canada into a neighboring canna-legal state like Washington or Maine would still be entirely illegal.
Michigan residents will be voting on whether to legalize recreational cannabis in their state this year, and local government officials on both sides of the border are working to educate the public about border laws ahead of this eventuality. The neighboring province of Ontario will not be opening its cannabis stores until next April, but residents will be allowed to order weed online or grow their own, so the likelihood that someone will try to bring some of this product into the U.S. is sure to increase.
Drew Dilkins, mayor of Windsor, a town in Ontario near the Michigan border, is working to heighten public awareness of the dangers of crossing the U.S. border with weed. "As a mayor of a border town, certainly there are concerns that we have with respect to the visitors that we get from Michigan and elsewhere in the U.S. coming here, and some of the differences that exist between what would be legal in Canada and is not legal in the United States,” Dilkins told Detroit Local 4. “We want to make sure that people who come here don't have a bad experience and that they're fully informed when they cross the border that the laws are different here."
"This bright red line at the border is something we all need to consider, because federal law will apply at the border, notwithstanding what's legal or not in either province or state on the other side of that border," Dilkens added. "We need to be able to inform folks when they're crossing the border what the laws are and how it'll impact them, because what we don't want to do is make criminals out of people who are coming to partake in otherwise legal activity.”
Even if Michigan were to legalize weed, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have stated unequivocally that they intend to follow federal cannabis laws to the letter. “Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production, and distribution of marijuana all remain illegal under U.S. federal law,” the agency said in a statement reported by Local 4. “Consequently, crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry with marijuana is prohibited and may result in seizure, fines, and apprehension.”
The Canadian government has also released statements warning citizens not to bring cannabis out of the country, as well as reminding tourists not to bring foreign cannabis into the country. Any Canadian caught trying to bring weed into America is likely to be banned from entering the country for life. These bans do not only apply to Canadians with weed on their person; anyone even tangentially involved in the Canadian cannabis industry is now at risk of being permanently banned from the U.S.
In recent months, reports have surfaced that U.S. border officials have been researching the websites of Canadian canna-businesses in order to identify their staff and enter them in a database of individuals who should be denied entry into the U.S. All Canadians attempting to cross the U.S. border are asked whether or not they have used or worked with marijuana, and admitting to doing so can result in a permanent ban. But anyone caught lying about their involvement with legal weed can also be banned, creating quite a sticky situation for around 30 million Canadian adults, who will all have the legal right to use cannabis as they choose starting October 17th.