Border crossing can be a stress-inducing experience for anyone, but when the question of cannabis comes up, you don’t want to be caught high and dry.
Take the recent story of two Canadians’ unpleasant experience with border patrol as a cautionary tale of what not to do. These two unfortunate travellers were hit with a lifetime entry ban to the United States plus a $500 fine after border guards discovered CBD oil in their possession.
Although they may apply for travel waivers in the future, which could allow them back into the U.S., it will certainly amount to a costly, time-consuming and undesirable process for both individuals in question.
So, what can we learn from their mistakes?
Here are the five things you need to know about cannabis before you cross the border:
1. Don’t Raise Any Red Flags
Your Snoop Dog cannabis-leaf covered t-shirt might be your favorite go-to clothing item right now; but consider packing it in your bag rather than wearing it across the border.
As a general rule, you want to be as unremarkable as possible when dealing with border authorities. Drawing attention to yourself rarely results in a positive experience, so try your best to stay low-key.
Remove any cannabis related paraphernalia or cannabis branded items from your person or your vehicle, in the event that you are driving across rather than flying.
Make sure that you aren’t raising any red – or should I say green – flags.
2. Make Sure Not to Have Any Cannabis on You
You should never, ever carry cannabis across the border. I cannot stress this enough.
You cannot carry cannabis across international borders, and you should refrain from doing so at all times.
Even if you are travelling from one cannabis-friendly location to another – like British Columbia to Washington, for example – this rule still applies. Just keep the CBSA’s new slogan in mind “Don’t bring it in. Don’t take it out.” It’s really that simple.
Leave your bud at home.
3. That Goes for Cannabis By-products Too…
Remember…cannabis comes in many forms, so sometimes leaving your bud at home isn’t enough.
Carrying any cannabis product – including CBD products – across international lines is highly illegal. It could result in serious consequences.
You should also remember that not all cannabis by-products are legal in all jurisdictions, either. So, if you are travelling within the U.S., be sure to check out the local rules and regulations before carrying anything over state lines.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
4. Don’t Lie
Aside from trying to smuggle cannabis across international lines, lying to a border guard is high on the list of things you don’t want to do when crossing the border.
Remember that your right to privacy is significantly scaled back at the border, and border guards can ask a wide variety of questions in order to ascertain your admissibility. This means that they can probe you about all sorts of things, like where you’re going, what you’re planning to do, where you work and how you spend your time.
If a border guard starts asking you questions, try to answer them as honestly as possible. Don’t lie, because that could be reason enough for them to deny you entry…or worse.
5. Leave Gracefully if You Have To
If things are getting too far outside your comfort zone, remember that you can always withdraw your application for entry into the U.S.
By withdrawing your application, you are voluntarily deciding not to cross international lines and to try again another day.
Although potentially inconvenient, this is a much better plan than putting yourself in a precarious position and ultimately being denied entry on a single occasion or being issued a lifetime ban.
Once that happens, you’ll need the help of a lawyer to undo what’s been already done.