British Columbia

B.C. solicitor general concerned cannabis workers may face difficulties crossing U.S. border

Farnworth said as agreements currently stand, an individual's ability to cross the border would depend entirely on what questions are asked, and how those questions are answered.

Mike Farnworth has raised issue with officials in U.S., where pot remains banned at federal level

While cannabis will become legal in Canada on Oct. 17, it is still considered a banned substance at the federal level in the U.S., though numerous states have legalized it. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

B.C.'s solicitor general said he's concerned that Canadians employed by legal cannabis operations may face difficulties crossing the U.S. border.

Recreational cannabis is set to become legal in Canada on Oct. 17. It's also legal right across the border from B.C. in Washington state. 

But cannabis is still considered a banned substance at the federal level in the U.S., though numerous states have legalized it.

"It's an issue that I have raised with American officials when I've met with them, and also raised with the federal government," Mike Farnworth said.

"We are aware [of issues] in terms of employees of cannabis facilities, both retail [and] production, both public and private, and we would like to find a resolution to potential problems at the border."

On Thursday, a senior U.S. border official told the American online publication Politico that Canadians who invest in cannabis companies or work in the industry could be turned away at the border.

Border guards have discretion

Farnworth said as agreements currently stand, an individual's ability to cross the border would depend entirely on what questions are asked, and how those questions are answered.

"They will be able to question you — just as they do right now — in terms of how you use cannabis, or do you have cannabis in your vehicle," he said.

"They can deny you access to the States, they can give you a lifetime ban, they can revoke a Nexus card. U.S. border guards have a lot of discretion at their hand. They make that decision."

Quick facts about legalization

  • On Oct. 17, there will be just one B.C. Cannabis Store in the entire province, located in Kamloops at the Columbia Place Shopping Centre. There will also be online sales through the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.  
  • Like alcohol, the minimum age for possession has been set at 19. But unlike liquor stores, anyone under the age of 19 is banned from entering a cannabis dispensary, even if they're with an adult.
  • For now, only dried cannabis, seeds and oils will be legally available, along with accessories like rolling papers, pipes and bongs.

With files from Radio West

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