Legalized cannabis could lead to border-crossing woes

News Release

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence

Legalized cannabis could lead to border-crossing woes

May 2, 2018


Ottawa – If recreational cannabis becomes legal in Canada, the federal government should continue official discussions with the United States about the treatment of Canadian travellers so that they remain able to cross the border with minimal inconvenience, the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence said Tuesday.

Committee members made a number of comments with regard to the legalization of cannabis after studying the issue as it relates to Canada’s borders.

Senators wish to minimize the effect of legalization on the movement of travellers and goods so that Canadians do not, for instance, face lengthy interrogation or increased searches by U.S. customs officials.

Witnesses have testified that Canadians travelling to the U.S. could be inadmissible for entry simply for admitting to previous cannabis use.

The committee requests that the government table before Parliament a plan to protect Canadian travellers at the border.

Quick Facts

  • Pursuant to a motion adopted in the Senate on February 15, 2018, the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence was authorized to study Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, as it relates to Canada’s borders.
  • The motion also authorized the Senate committees on Aboriginal Peoples, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and Legal and Constitutional Affairs to study aspects of Bill C-45.
  • These committees’ reports will be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology during its study of the bill.

Quotes

“With legalization looming, Canada must be prepared for the consequences. Canadians must be confident that they will still be able to cross into the United States without fear that activities legal in Canada will be held against them. We urge the government to make the necessary diplomatic overtures.”

- Senator Gwen Boniface, Chair of the committee.

“If the legalization of cannabis is to take place with a minimum of harm, the government will need to address the issues our committee has raised. The mobility of people and goods across the U.S. border is crucial to Canada’s economy; we cannot afford to be unprepared.”

- Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais, Deputy Chair of the committee.

“Our actions, as legislators, have consequences. Sometimes they are difficult to foresee, but in this instance it is all too clear that Bill C-45 could adversely affect cross-border mobility. There is still time for the government to take steps to protect Canadian travellers.”

- Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer, Deputy Chair of the committee.

Associated Links

For more information, please contact:

Sonia Noreau
Public Relations Officer
Communications Directorate
Senate of Canada
613-614-1180 | sonia.noreau@sen.parl.gc.ca