5 things about international travel when cannabis becomes legal

5 things about international travel when cannabis becomes legal
Ontario launches website for selling legal weed, says Canada Post will handle deliveries
In a policy change made without fanfare Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) now says Canadians who work in the legal cannabis industry here will be free to enter the United States.

It’s a major reversal of a position announced in late September, when a CBP statement on marijuana legalization in Canada said that “as marijuana continues to be a controlled substance under United States law, working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in U.S. states where it is deemed legal or Canada may affect admissibility to the U.S.”

These include a pot conviction in the United States or abroad, an admission of use without a conviction, or reason to believe youre 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 its legal.

It now says that “a Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S.”

Canadians working in legal pot industry can enter U.S. for personal trips

“It’s a 180-degree turnaround from their statement two weeks ago,” says Len Saunders, an immigration lawyer in Blaine, Wash.

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.

“I think this is a best-case scenario. It should make the Canadian government a lot more comfortable knowing that Canadians doing this in Canada won’t be denied entry. It still tells Canadians they can’t get involved with the U.S. cannabis industry, and a lot of these big companies will be, but at least it protects Canadians doing it legally in Canada.”

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.

The ban potentially affected everybody involved in Canada’s legal cannabis industry, from retail workers to people involved in support activities like accounting.

No cannabis at border crossings. The signs posted on the Canadian side of Ontarios Thousand Islands crossing into the United States couldnt be more clear. Theyre punctuated with a logo featuring a pot leaf inside a red circle with a red slash through it.

In late September, B.C.s solicitor general Mike Farnworth pointed out that hundreds of provincial government employees involved in the legal cannabis industry in the province were in danger of being banned for life from entering the U.S.

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

READ MORE: Gov’t employees working in legal pot industry may be denied entry into U.S., says B.C. solicitor general

Its 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 statement cautions that Canadians can still be banned at the border for trying to enter the U.S. for reasons related to the American marijuana industry. Although legal in a growing number of states, medical and recreational cannabis are both still illegal under U.S. federal law.

Language barring “abusers” of drugs banned in the United States, including marijuana, remains in place. Any level of use of these drugs is considered abuse.”

On paper, this creates a situation where a cannabis store worker could be banned for using the pot that she is employed to sell — but not for actually selling it — but Saunders doesn’t think it will work that way.

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

“It’s literally a week before legalization, and the Americans finally have taken a common-sense approach.”

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.

“Here they are, issuing statements that are vitally important to Canadians and the Canadian government, and you’d think the Canadian government would at least issue a press release and say ‘Hey, it’s not as bad as everyone was anticipating.”

The Ontario Cannabis Store has launched part of its website, which includes a ton of detailed and nuanced information about marijuana. OTTwp

A week from now, Canada Post will be delivering plain packages containing pot to residents across Ontario.

The Crown corporation has the contract to deliver weed for the government’s online store that opens for business Oct. 17, the day recreational cannabis is legalized across the country.

"A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. however, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible," said the CBP in a statement posted to its website.

The online store will be the only legal channel for Ontarians to buy cannabis for nearly six months after legalization.

There had been uncertainty over how Canadians in the industry would be treated at the border, and whether or not their connections to the sector could prevent them from entering America. Previously Canadians had been told that anyone with connections to the cannabis industry could face a lifetime ban from the U.S.

The provincial Conservative government plans to licence private businesses to operate bricks-and-mortar marijuana stores, but they won’t open until April 2019.

"We always knew that if someone in Canada indicated that they were going into the United States to engage in the marijuana business that they would be prohibited from coming because it remains illegal in the United States," Blair said in the interview that will be airing at 5 p.m. EST Thursday.

Portions of the Ontario Cannabis Store website went live Wednesday night. You can find the website at ocslearn.ca/learn.

Canada Post will deliver the dried flower, oil, pre-rolled joints and gel capsules that will be for sale on Day 1.

In a revised policy, the American border agency has relaxed its stance on Canadians in the cannabis industry crossing the border. Canadian citizens working in the legal marijuana regime will not face issues entering the U.S. as long as theyre coming for personal, or non-work reasons.

And there’s no need to worry the neighbours will find out. “When we ship orders, we deliver in discreet, plain packaging so the nature of your purchase is not revealed.”

Other restrictions remain in place, including that it is illegal to bring cannabis across the border and could result in being denied entry, fined, or arrested. Under U.S. federal law, possessing, producing, and distributing recreational and medical marijuana is against the law.

A delivery agent will check ID when the package is delivered. If no one is home, packages will not be left at the door.

OTTAWA – Canadians who are employed or invest in the legal cannabis industry should not anticipate any issues crossing the U.S. border, as long as the purpose of their trip has nothing to do with the marijuana industry, says the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

The Ontario Cannabis Store will be careful with personal information collected by customers, says the website. “We understand that our customers expect us to keep their purchases confidential, and so we have made a deliberate choice to protect personal information.

“We only collect information that is necessary for each transaction. We won’t use or share it for any other purposes and it will never be sold to third parties. All information will only be kept for the minimum length of time required by law, and then deleted as soon as possible.”

The updated policy comes just under a week before recreational marijuana will be legalized across Canada, initiating a major societal shift.

The Ontario Cannabis Store has supply deals with 32 Health Canada-licensed cannabis growers who will provide the products.

The online store will provide information about the content of THC, the chemical that makes users “high,” and CBD, a component that is not psychoactive and can have medical benefits. “Easy-to-use search filters” will allow customers to search for products based on their preferences, says the website.

The Ontario Cannabis Store has launched part of its website, which is packed with information. OTTwp

The website is packed with information. It explains the cannabis plant, including strain types and an explanation of THC, CBD and terpenes, which are responsible for the taste and smell of cannabis.

The website also outlines the health risks of using marijuana, includes guidelines for lower-risk use, and warns that the effects of using the common drug range from “pleasant to very unpleasant.”

People use cannabis to relax, feel happier, more social or more energetic, to become more focused, creative or productive, and to increase appetite and arousal, says the website.

However, “because cannabis interacts uniquely with each individual, it’s possible that you’ll experience something different than what you may expect.”

The information provided is detailed and nuanced. For example, the website explains that while it was once thought that the species of cannabis — sativa or indica — was solely responsible for the effect, that can be misleading. Many cannabis users are under the impression that sativa strains provide more energy, while indica strains are more calming or sedating.

“While some of this basic knowledge may still apply, now that hybrid strains have been cultivated by growers for so many years, references to the effects of pure species may no longer be relevant or helpful,” says the website.

“Today, there are hundreds of strains of plants ⎯ each bred for specific characteristics and often intended to produce specific effects for consumers.

“While many licensed cannabis producers are trying to cultivate new strains to reliably produce certain desired effects, the science of producing a product with consistent effects for every person is not yet well enough understood, and much more research will be needed before this is possible,” says the website. “This is another reason it’s not possible to completely predict the experience you will have.”