(Canadian Press)

Heading abroad in the legal cannabis era could harsh your buzz

Canadians should be aware of the rules when travelling abroad once Ottawa allows recreational marijuana use at home

“No cannabis at border crossings.” The signs posted on the Canadian side of Ontario’s Thousand Islands crossing into the United States couldn’t be more clear. They’re punctuated with a logo featuring a pot leaf inside a red circle with a red slash through it.

It’s a reminder that even though Canada enters a brave new world of cannabis legalization on Wednesday, these heady horizons do not necessarily extend beyond the country’s borders. So Canadians should be aware of the rules when travelling abroad once Ottawa allows recreational marijuana use at home. Here’s what you need to know:

Legalization

As of Oct. 17, adults in Canada can possess and share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis. They’ll be able to buy it from provincially or federally licensed retailers and grow up to up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use.

READ MORE: B.C. cannabis consumption second highest in Canada

Cannabis to go?

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

This is the case even if you are travelling to places like The Netherlands or Uruguay that have decriminalized or legalized cannabis.

The restriction applies regardless of the amount or whether you hold a document authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Only Health Canada has authority to issue permits or grant exemptions in limited circumstances.

READ MORE: Canadian pot workers to be allowed to cross border

Heading to the United States

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

The border falls under federal jurisdiction, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can deny Canadians and other non-citizens entry on a number of marijuana-related grounds.

These include a pot conviction in the United States or abroad, an admission of use without a conviction, or reason to believe you’re 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 it’s legal.

Once ruled inadmissible, a traveller might require a special waiver to enter the U.S.

It’s 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 federal government advises Canadians not to lie at the border.

If you don’t like the questions, you have the right to withdraw your request to enter the U.S.

READ MORE: What you need to know about pot on planes

What if I work in the cannabis industry?

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.

Indeed, there have been reports of Canadians being denied entry due to involvement in the U.S. cannabis industry.

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.

“I think the best policy is to be straightforward,” said Vrana, vice-president of public affairs at Hill and Knowlton Strategies.

“It’s their country, it’s their rules, right?”

Coming home to Canada

Bringing cannabis into Canada will remain illegal, even when travelling from places that have loosened their laws on marijuana use, the government warns.

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.

If you are carrying pot when you enter Canada, it must be declared to the border agency. Otherwise, you may face arrest and prosecution, the agency says.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Wayne Carson re-elected as Central Okanagan West regional director

But his bid to win seats on both the regional board and Kelowna city council comes up short

Three men charged in Michael Bonin’s murder will go straight to trial

The three men are charged with first degree murder in the death a 20-year-old from Alberta.

Okanagan Sun advance to Cullen Cup championship

Will host Langley Rams Oct. 28 with title up for grabs

Preliminary inquiry for Sagmoen begins in Vernon

Sagmoen, whose charges were split into three separate matters, has been in custody since Oct. 2017

Off road crash in the Okanagan sends one to hospital

COSAR was called out twice Saturday, once to Bear Creek Main and once to Peachland

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

Watch it again: Kelowna mayoral candidates square off

Missing the LIVE Kelowna mayoral debate watch now

Liberals write off $6.3 billion in loans as part of money never to be collected

That includes student loans and a $2.6 billion write off that came through Export Development Canada

Category 5 Hurricane Willa threatens Mexico’s Pacific coast

Hurricane-force winds extended 30 miles (45 kilometres) from the storm’s centre

Trudeau, McKenna to announce compensation for federal carbon plan

Provinces that don’t have a carbon price of at least $20 per tonne of emissions will have Ottawa’s plan forced on them

Okanagan parachute accident kills American

Man, 34, dies in skydiving accident Saturday near Westwold, between Vernon and Kelowna

Man who died at BC Ferries terminal shot himself as police fired: watchdog

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Voter turnout at 36% in B.C.’s municipal election

Vancouver saw 39% turnout, Surrey saw 33%

Harry and Meghan travel in different style on Australia tour

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day seven of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

Most Read