In the weeks leading up to legalization, word has been circulating the media sphere that the United States border patrol is planning on tightening up security at U.S. the border as a means to prevent Canadians from carrying marijuana into the United States.
TL;DR We spoke to some young Quebecers about their experience with U.S. border patrol since legalization. Here's what they have to say.
These aren't just unfounded paranoid-driven rumours buzzing through cannabis forums, though. These are valid concerns and questions voiced by Canadians based on real statements made by United States officials.
For example, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection tweeted a threatening comment after marijuana legalization in Canada.
Moreover, it has been made clear that U.S border patrol has the right to search your credit card history for any legal marijuana purchases, and they reserve the right to ban you from entering the United States at their discretion.
This begs the question: is this all a scare tactic?
All these threatening Tweets and extreme warnings come accross as quite dramatic and over-the-top to me. Which leads me to believe that this is just a clever marketing strategy, so-to-speak, to spook Canadians a bit.
Afterall, the car line-ups at the major border crossing are insane; drivers often experiencing hour long waits on weekends. In reality, it's in the patrol officers' best interest to be as efficient as possible when questioning individuals.
That said, it's been exactly a week since legalization, so we're on a mission to find out if the U.S. border patrol are living up to their threatening Tweets and being extra strict with Canadians entering the United States.
We spoke to a Quebecer in her twenties who confirmed that she passed the customs on Sunday, and she was not asked anything about cannabis, but she was selected for a random search: "They did not ask any questions about cannabis, but there are rumours that they ask you if you have ever smoked ... Anyway, not me! On the other hand, I was selected for a random search at the customs: they searched my entire car."
We spoke with another man in his late 20's who was actually questioned if he currently had marijuana in his possession by U.S customs officials. "We were 5 guys in an SUV, the customs officer simply asked if we were carrying weed. It took 2 minutes, we passed. They did not ask if we had already consumed."
Although it's a little early to tell, and our sample is obviously quite small, these anectodal stories suggest that the chances of being questioned about marijuana by U.S border patrol is about 50/50.
We have not yet found anyone who has been asked specifically if they ever bought cannabis, or if he has already used cannabis in general, but we have no doubt that Canadians will be asked this question at the U.S. boarder in the coming months.