RMR recently had the opportunity to remember that the US/Canada border has a few rules regarding cannabis. Though cannabis may be legal for recreational consumption in the US, it is still only medically legal in Canada. That means that for all legal purposes, the cannabis found in the US/Canada must never cross each other’s borders.
This falls under restrictions you can find on any substance controlled by the Liquor Control Board (LCB). With that in mind, we at RMR felt it would be educational and helpful to have a refresher on what will keep you from dealing with a $500 fine. We’ll break it all down to a who, what, and where.
As mentioned, medicinal marijuana is legal in Canada, while recreational is not. On the other hand, medicinal marijuana is lawful in the District of Columbia and 29 of the United States, including eight states where it is also legal for recreational purposes and in 12 of the 13 states that share a border with Canada.
Despite that, cannabis remains federally illegal. Remembering that the federal government controls all land, sea, and air borders, and can basically ban any substance despite state laws. So, cannabis can’t cross borders; until the feds change their minds. Your due diligence lies in remembering if you have ANY cannabis products in your car before approaching the US/Canada border.
What happens if you’re caught? If you’re entering Canada from the US with any amount of cannabis could result in simply being turned away. More than likely you will be able to try again the next day with only a little more scrutiny attached.
US citizens can’t be denied re-entry when crossing the US/Canada border, but they can definitely be fined. Also remember that Canada and the US share criminal databases, the resting place for old convictions that will most likely lead to inadmissibility on both sides of the border.
Entering the US from Canada with contraband befalls much harsher ramifications. Not only are you denied entry, but the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may also deem you inadmissible and essentially banished from the US (if you’re Canadian).
In a less serious scenario, they’ll thoroughly search your vehicle and issue a fine for any cannabis products found. But only if you tell them you don’t have any weed! If you’re unsure, tell them to search and confiscate anything they find to avoid the fine!
This is vital advice: if you’re crossing the border into the US from Canada and you think there might be any cannabis products in your vehicle when you approach the border tell them!
If you answer the CPB officer’s question of if you have any drugs in the car no, and they search it and find something, you get a fine. If you tell them there might be drugs in the car and allow them to search and confiscate what they find, you don’t get a fine! Remember this and avoid the fine!