With marijuana legalization impending in Canada, U.S.-Canada relations will become more strained than ever. While Canada prepares to cash in on the burgeoning weed industry, the drug is still strictly forbidden in the United States.
Recreational marijuana is legal in nine American states but still banned federally, making for some pretty contradictory regulations. But about two hundred million American citizens will remain without safe access to weed.
That makes Canada the best destination for American weed enthusiasts. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans anually will likely make trips north to enjoy the substance that is still illicit in their home country.
Areas directly across the border like Windsor and Niagara Falls, Ontario, will offer easy-access for Americans looking to escape harsh federal laws. Those places are expecting a huge boost in their economies once provincial marijuana distribution stores open late this year.
American weed tourism also poses a danger, however. Foreigners unfamiliar with the strict zoning laws that have followed legalization could prove a nuisance to residents and local authorities. Misdemeanours like smoking too close to a school could also cause an international incident.
If once small communities become points of congregation for American tourists, crowding and gentrification could displace Canadian residents.
U.S. officials plan to take an even harder line when it comes to marijuana consumption after the drug becomes readily available in Canada. American federal attorney general Jeff Sessions is notoriously antagonistic to the harmless drug.
The U.S. border with Canada is, of course, federally-controlled territory. Americans will be unable to bring marijuana back into their country, even if their own state has legalized it. Those who bring back a sample souvenir could face felony charges. Canadians who admit to marijuana use to American border agents could receive lifetime bans from entering the country.
Potentially thousands of incidents are bound to erupt at the U.S.-Canada border in the coming years. Only time will tell where such incidents will take relations between the two countries with the longest shared border in the world.