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As travel restrictions ease, CBSA reminds Canadians not to cross the border with cannabis

Oct 7, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

‘Don’t bring it in. Don’t take it out’

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Ahead of the Thanksgiving long weekend, and as travel restrictions ease, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is reminding Canadians not to cross the border with cannabis.

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Stating that the federal agency is “pleased to welcome the returning volumes of travellers crossing the border,” the CBSA issued some tips for those who plan on heading south for U.S. Columbus Day or as part of their Thanksgiving plans.

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  1. The agency notes that it is illegal to bring cannabis and cannabis products into or out of Canada without a valid Health Canada permit or exemption. PHOTO BY CBSA

    Canada Border Services Agency seizes nearly 900 kilograms of cannabis set for export

  2. Customs officials found 30 vacuum-sealed packages of cannabis in one piece of luggage and 31 similar packages in the man's second suitcase. PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

    Canadian man jailed in Barbados after pleading guilty to importing 30 kg of cannabis

  3. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) working at the Massena, N.Y. Port of Entry discovered the smuggled cannabis after their suspicions were raised during a primary check of the vehicle. /

    Canadian man arrested for trying to smuggle five kilograms of pot across border

Noting that the Monday of holiday long weekends tend to be the busiest, with longer border wait times, the CBSA encourages travellers to cross during non-peak hours, such as early morning.

On the topic of cannabis, the agency is clear: “Don’t bring it in. Don’t take it out.”

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“Transporting cannabis across the border in any form, including any oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD), without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada remains a serious criminal offence subject to arrest and prosecution, despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada,” the agency notes.

Last year, the CBSA set new penalties for crossing the border with cannabis, announcing it would begin issuing monetary penalties to travellers who fail to properly declare cannabis and cannabis products when crossing the border.

“This is another tool, besides criminal prosecution, to crack down on the unauthorized cross-border movement of cannabis in any form,” the agency reported at the time.

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The penalties apply to travellers who “provide information to an officer that is not true, accurate and complete; or fail to report imported goods containing cannabis.”

Border services officers can detain the undeclared cannabis or cannabis products with no terms of release and serve the traveller with a written Notice of Penalty Assessment that states the contravention and a penalty, which can range from a $200 to $2,000 fine.

The penalty assessment is based on the type of contravention and severity, as well as whether or not the traveller has a history of non-compliance. In some cases, the agency may pursue criminal prosecution in addition to the monetary penalty.

Travellers who disagree with the monetary penalty have 90 days to request a ministerial review of the officer’s decision.

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A few Canadians have been busted for travelling with cannabis in recent months, though the infractions are far greater than forgetting to declare a joint.

In August, a 59-year-old man from Toronto was jailed after attempting to smuggle more than 30 kilograms of cannabis into Barbados in two suitcases. Apprehended at the Grantley Adams International Airport after customs officials searched his luggage, the man was unable to pay a fine of $80,000 (about $52,000) and was subsequently sentenced to 36 months.

Earlier this year, a 24-year-old Canadian was arrested in New York state after customs officers found US$24,000 ($32, 800) worth of marijuana inside the trunk of his vehicle. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the Massena, N.Y. Port of Entry discovered the bud after their suspicions were raised during a primary check of the vehicle.

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A Canadian was also behind the wheel in a recent attempt to import 158 kilograms of cannabis into Michigan via semi-truck.

The truck was stopped shortly after crossing the Blue Water Bridge into Michigan. Authorities observed the truck parked outside a closed business on Gratiot Avenue in Columbus Township, with a van parked next to it and men unloading cargo from the truck into the van.

Upon closer inspection, officers found the pot and 11 kilograms of ecstasy. Police estimate the total value of the drugs seized to be over $1 million.

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