I think I need a vacation from my vacation.
Last week, I made a gruelling trek from Smithers to Lethbridge Alta. for my son’s bachelor weekend. I decided I would drive it in one shot in order to spend more time with him and save some money. It was a full 16 hours door-to-door, the longest I can ever remember driving by myself at one time.
After 99 holes of golf over four days and another 16 hours on the road coming back to Smithers on Labour Day, dragging my butt out of bed to go back to work Tuesday morning was challenging.
Nevertheless, it was a great time and I played my best golf of the season, so far. Loved those wide open southern Alberta courses and gave me a greater appreciation for just how tight the Smithers course is.
The drive actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I had great weather and it wasn’t marred (much) by construction delays or tourists stopping on the side of the Icefields Parkway to stupidly feed the bears despite all the signs warning against it.
All in all, it was rather uneventful, although tiring.
The same cannot be said for another gentleman who probably needs a vacation from his vacation. This recent traveller called me up from Kitwanga just before I left with a much more harrowing ‘how I spent my summer vacation’ story.
He was travelling back from Alaska, where cannabis is legal, to Canada, where cannabis is legal.
So, when the customs agent at the border asked him if he was carrying any cannabis products, he thought nothing of declaring it—particularly since he is a medical user—which led to a three-hour ordeal and confiscation of his weed and some other paraphernalia he was carrying, but fortunately no charges.
The legalization of marijuana in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018 did not change Canada’s border rules for the substance.
It is illegal to carry any cannabis product across the border in either direction, even if you are travelling to or from a state where it is legal.
That being said, this man, absolutely did the right thing in declaring it. It is a further crime not to and could lead to criminal prosecution, which, thankfully, our friend from Kitwanga is not currently facing.
Going the other way is even worse. While certain states have legalized pot, it is still illegal under federal law. The border is federal jurisdiction. And the U.S. government is a little humourless when it comes to the importing the stuff.
A person could very easily wind up in an American jail, a fate, by most accounts, far worse than winding up in a Canadian jail.
Ultimately, I think Canada has some bugs to work out in this legalization scheme. As a legally purchased product, it should be eligible for importing just as alcohol and tobacco products are.
It is not.
Perhaps some day it will be, but it is highly unlikely that is going to happen until the Americans make it legal nationally. They will and we may even see it in the duty-free shops eventually.
In the meantime, I wanted to pass along this story as a cautionary tale for other travellers.
Do not try to cross the border with pot, in either direction, even if you have a prescription.