Cannabis may be legal across Canada, but border security will still confiscate any cannabis that visitors try to bring from outside the country. And while you can buy marijuana in every province and territory, the number of cannabis seizures at the border has actually increased since legalization became law last October, writes Calvin Hughes and James McClure.
The number of cannabis confiscations at the Canadian border rose by 60 percent during the first six weeks following legalization. Between October 17 and November 30 the Canada Border Services Agency reported 329 confiscations of both declared and undeclared cannabis. During the same period in 2017 they made only 204 confiscations.
The rise in confiscations of cannabis at the border is being attributed to a change in policy that now sees Canadian border agents asking travelers if they have any cannabis on them. Luckily for them, the punishment ends at losing their stash, in most cases. While it remains illegal to take cannabis across international border, travelers who surrender their cannabis at the border will not be charged. That means the higher number of confiscations doesn’t translate to more cannabis arrests.
The border agency has also reported a huge increase in interceptions of packages containing marijuana during that same six week period. There were 241 mail interceptions between October 17 to November 30, 2017, but that number jumped up to 1,980 in 2018.
That might seem like Canada is suddenly being besieged by illicit cannabis imports, but border agents say that the 2018 numbers are probably higher simply because their staff had more time to scan packages for contraband due to last fall’s postal strike. The service stoppage meant there were fewer packages sitting in postal centers and more time to screen them. And since Canada only allows consumers to possess cannabis that has been grown in Canada, the mail interceptions are seized along with the illicit cargo taken from tourists.
While consumers might be annoyed about losing the cannabis packed in their luggage when they visit Canada, they should remember that things could be a while lot worse: getting caught with cannabis or even admitting to smoking a joint at any point in your life can get you a lifetime travel ban from America.