In late September, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) introduced a new policy for baggage screeners who find medical cannabis at airport security checkpoints. Now, as of October 2017, police will only be called for large quantities of cannabis.
What does CATSA consider a ‘large quantity’?
Large quantities in this case means having more cannabis than can fit into a 1L bag or bottle. It’s a little strange that cannabis is being measured by volume instead of weight, but that would equal to approximately 1-1.5 ounces, depending on the cannabis.
This also assumes the traveler has the proper medical documents because if they find cannabis in your baggage or you declare it and you don’t have the documents, the cops will still be called.
Why change now?
This move is supposed to streamline the process for screening officers who are dealing with a surge of cannabis being found in airports across Canada by making it easier to separate legal and illegal cannabis.
CATSA’s previous policy regarding cannabis was to call police for any amount of cannabis found and the police would then have to verify the passenger’s medical documents. This led to complaints from travelers who had their plans delayed and felt singled-out and shamed for their choice of medicine.
It has also been suggested that passengers traveling with medical cannabis put it in their carry-on baggage because if the drug detection dogs find the cannabis in stowaway, that will take even longer to sort out, even with the proper documentation.
The feds respond
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau told TVA, “The law is the law until it is amended and we fully expect CATSA and all crown corporations to be in compliance with that position.”