The legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada has only further estranged the country from its neighbour and once-closest-friend, the United States.

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TL;DR Attempts to export cannabis from Canada to the United States will be punished with prison time and multi-thousand dollar fines in both countries.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency officials have vowed to issue lifetime entry bans to any Canadian that admits to any contact with cannabis. Today, reports from Saskatchewan indicate that the agency is following through with that promise.

Even more severe, however, are the punishments for bringing cannabis from Canada into the United States, as many American enthusiasts may be tempted to do.

Transporting marijuana across an international boundary is illegal in both Canada and the United States. Indeed, despite legalization, cannabis is still a controlled substance in Canada and must remain within its boundaries.

Thus, an individual who attempts to bring marijuana from Canada into the United States could face charges in both countries. 

While punishments for this transgression are severe, the U.S. is, unsurprisingly, even less forgiving than Canada.

In both countries, precise penalties for cross-border transportation of marijuana are buried in dense legislation.

So that you may clearly understand what is at stake, we've located and condensed regulations and punishments into this quick reference document.


Canada

In Canada, cannabis is still listed as a Schedulle II drug and subject to strict laws concerning its transport and sale.

Punishments for exporting it vary according to amount in possession and type. But most generally, individuals who attempt to transport any cannabis across Canada's international boundaries can expect:

– imprisonment for a term between 6 months and 14 years and/or
– a fine of up to $5,000

This information comes directly from the Cannabis Act.


United States

According to the Controlled Substances Act, individuals who import cannabis to the United States can expect:

– 5 years imprisonment
– $250,000 fine

Canadians also face a lifetime ban from entering the United States.

Interestingly, American officials have been dodgy about the legality of the consumption of cannabis by Americans abroad.

On its website, the United States Embassy to Canada makes clear that as little evidence as "cannabis residue" on any possession that is transported across the U.S. border is enough to initiate criminal proceedings.

However, officials did not respond to questions about border agents' power to question returning Americans about their interactions with marijuana in Canada.

"Cannabis residue," of course, is open to interpretation. Lingering smell, alone, could be evidence of "residue."

To be safe, marijuana consumers should wash any items or vehicles where particles of the drug may be present.


 

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