The legislative battle over marijuana may be over, but as Canadians look ahead to Oct. 17 — the date legalization takes effect — there are some practical considerations that should be top of mind for those keen to light up legally.
First of all — and this is typical of Canada’s federal system — not all provinces and territories are following the same path to legalization. Some are imposing different regulations on the drug within their jurisdictions. Two provinces, Quebec and Manitoba, are banning home cultivation altogether.
Canadians who cross the border frequently into the U.S. should prepare for American customs and border patrol officers asking pointed questions about their drug histories.
U.S. immigration lawyers are already warning Canadians that they could be denied entry to the U.S. — or barred from the United States for life — if they admit to smoking cannabis to a border agent. The drug is still a prohibited substance under U.S. federal law, despite legalization in some U.S. states.
When Trump talks about building a wall on the southern border, I see a wall on the northern border for Canadians because of marijuana.– Len Saunders, immigration lawyer
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an ardent anti-drug crusader, warned a group of Canadian Conservative senators recently that there could be longer wait times at the border because of enhanced, secondary screening of Canadians.
There is also the matter of amnesty or pardons for those Canadians who have been convicted of cannabis possession-related offences, an issue that activists and the NDP have been pushing since the Liberal government unveiled its plan for legal marijuana.
But until Oct. 17, the current law remains in place. Police can still make arrests for possession and Crown attorneys can still prosecute.
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