Border Woes: Transporting CBD into Canada is Not OK


In a current tweet, the Canada Border Solutions Agency (CBSA) reminded us that transporting CBD oil into Canada remains illegal. Whilst in most areas south of the 49th parallel what CBSA has to say is of small consequence, it absolutely matters right here in Washington State, exactly where you are by no means also far away from the Canadian border. The complete text of the tweet reads:

#DYK that transporting #CBDOil across the border remains illegal? Transporting any type of #cannabis across the border without the need of a permit or exemption authorized by @GovCanHealth remains a significant offence. #DontBringItIn #DontTakeItOut

With the coming into force of the Cannabis Act on October 17, 2019, recreational marijuana use became legal on each sides of Washington State’s 427-mile border with British Columbia, as nicely as other stretches of the U.S.-Canada boundary. This developed a predicament ripe for confusion. The man (or lady) on the Amtrak Cascades may well reasonably conclude that there is nothing at all incorrect with taking a cannabis solution purchased legally at a Seattle shop to Vancouver, exactly where it can also be bought legally.

Even so, as the Canadian government created clear in the information and facts sheet it sent to just about every household in the nation prior to the Cannabis Act’s powerful date: “It’s illegal to take cannabis and cannabis merchandise, which includes these with CBD, across the Canadian border, irrespective of whether you are leaving or coming to Canada. This applies to all nations, irrespective of whether cannabis is legal there or not.”

With CBD merchandise also on the hook, the prospective for confusion extends to significantly of the borderlands. For instance, when Montana has a significantly stricter cannabis regime than Washington State, THC-free of charge CBD merchandise are not illegal in Huge Sky Nation. This puts not just the marijuana aficionado from Tacoma on his way to celebration in Van at threat of border problems, but also the arthritic retiree from Helena heading up for a weekend in Banff.

To be fair, it is not uncommon at all for merchandise that are legal on each sides of a border to be topic to customs controls, for income and/or regulatory motives. That mentioned, the predicament with cannabis along the U.S.-Canada border is extra fraught with threat simply because it is nonetheless an illegal drug as far as the U.S. federal government is concerned.

It is completely understandably for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to be on the lookout for cannabis merchandise. The agency is tasked with enforcing federal law, and logically their officers in Metaline Falls, Washington ought to not go about their duties any differently that their colleagues 55 miles away in Eastport, Idaho. Even so, it is clear seems that the Feds are going far beyond that—with Canadians feeling significantly of the discomfort.

The CBC is probably not exaggerating when it reports, “Thousands of Canadians have been denied entry to the U.S. merely for admitting they’ve smoked a joint after in their lives.” As my colleague Akshat Divatia recently explained:

U.S. law will not recognize any amnesty or pardon by Canadian authorities for cannabis-connected convictions. Admitting to a CBP officer that you utilized marijuana any time just before legalization is the equivalent of a formal court conviction for that crime and you will probably be denied entry into the United States.”

The identical CBC write-up notes than an “unsuspecting CBD oil user”—remember our arthritic retiree—could be “banned from getting into the [U.S.] for life.” But you do not even have to have to carry or even have utilized cannabis merchandise to get in problems. As Akshat notes:

These who legally function in the Canadian cannabis business need to offer particulars about their function and convince U.S. border officers that their trip to the U.S. is purely individual. Cannabis workers will probably have to have to prove that when in the U.S., they will not engage in any networking or strategic meetings, presentations, promoting efforts, or any manufacturing or distribution activities with consumers or cannabis business colleagues.”

Stated much less elegantly, coming to the U.S. for cannabis-connected small business is a no-no. Even investing in cannabis companies could theoretically get you banned for life from the United States. With this sort of onslaught, even innocuous activities such as altering planes at a U.S. airport to attend a cannabis conference in a third nation are causes of concern.

It does not quit there, although. In at least one particular instance that we know of, CBP took away NEXUS privileges from an individual who wrote a reference letter for a fellow Canadian applying for a waiver for a marijuana-connected ineligibility. This is worth repeating. They did not take away NEXUS privileges from an individual who him or herself had a marijuana ineligibility, but rather from an individual who wanted to support that particular person by writing a letter. This would be akin to a lawyer finding sanctioned for serving as a character reference for a bar applicant who had a run-in with the law in the previous.

You may well assume, nicely, it is just NEXUS—wait in the common line like the rest of us. But the capability to steer clear of lengthy waits at the border can be essential for persons engaged in cross-border small business activities. And, once more, the privileges are becoming taken away for writing a letter.

I want I could say that the bottom line is as very simple as not taking any cannabis products—whether THC, CBD or someplace in between—with you when you cross the border. Even so, the dangers run significantly deeper for Canadians and other foreigners with any cannabis involvement heading south. And to be positive, this involves foreigners living in the United States, who are quite significantly topic to the identical ineligibilities.

If in doubt, speak to a lawyer just before you go anyplace close to the Peace Arch. Do not take probabilities: The consequences can be as significant as they get.


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