Keep your weed away from border, Canada and U.S. officials warn

April 20 is treated like a holiday at Smoke on the Water in Calais, Maine. On Friday, the dispensary, which doubles as a smoke shop where you can buy bongs and pipes, added some festive flair with balloons and signs.

New law will legalize marijuana in Canada, but you'll be barred from taking it to Maine, where it's also legal

Marijuana will soon be legal on both sides of the border, but Canadian and U.S. agencies warn it will still be illegal to take pot across the border. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

April 20 is treated like a holiday at Smoke on the Water in Calais, Maine.

On Friday, the dispensary, which doubles as a smoke shop where you can buy bongs and pipes, added some festive flair with balloons and signs.

As customers came in to buy some of the pungent marijuana behind the display case, the clerk greeted them with a cheery "Happy 4-20."

Business has been good, according to store manager Terry Johnson Jr.

New law will legalise marijuana in Canada, but it won’t mean you can take it to states where pot is legal. 0:43

Maine legalized recreational marijuana in 2017, but Johnson said it hasn't gotten any easier to leave the state with weed.

And while Canada will soon pass legislation to make recreational cannabis legal, he doesn't think going north will be any simpler.

"That's going to be a difficult part," Johnson said. "The federal government on either side runs the border."

Terry Johnson Jr. manages a pot shop in Calais, Maine, and thinks people crossing the border may have to educate themselves about laws governing weed. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

According to a Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson, importing cannabis and cannabis products will still be prohibited under the proposed new law. Jennifer Morrison said in an email that a valid permit issued by Health Canada will be needed to do so.

Going south won't be any different. While weed will be legal on both sides of the border, Calais's port director with U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it will be business as usual.

"The change in legislation on the Canadian side is not going to affect the way that we enforce the U.S. federal laws," said Corey McPhee.

He said under current U.S. federal policies, marijuana is prohibited from entering the country, so border agents will continue to follow those rules.

Corey McPhee, the port director in Calais with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, expects it will be business as usual enforcing federal laws, even after Canada legalizes marijuana. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

McPhee said marijuana is seized on a daily basis at the border, both in recreational and distribution amounts. His agency has been working with Canada Border Services to prepare for the coming changes in Canadian pot laws.

While there might be a bit of a learning curve with public knowledge at first, McPhee said he wasn't concerned.

"Our people are well-versed in how to handle it," he said.

About the Author

Matthew Bingley

Reporter

Matthew Bingley is a CBC reporter based in Saint John.