NDP MP calls for deal protecting Canadians at border after pot is legal

Marijuana legalization is less than a week away and one NDP MP is calling on the federal government to have an agreement with the U.S. that would protect Canadians when they cross the border.

'They make no distinction,' Brian Masse says border patrol doesn't care if pot is legal in a state

NDP MP for Windsor West, Brian Masse, says the federal government should have discussed marijuana during the free trade agreement negotiations. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Pot legalization is less than a week away and one NDP MP is calling on the federal government to come to a formal agreement with the U.S. about treatment of Canadians at the border.

"I don't think we've taken that seriously enough with regards to preparation," said Brian Masse, who represents Windsor West.

He pointed to a pamphlet he got in the mail from the Government of Canada, and said there's only one line about crossing the border — which says it's illegal to take cannabis across the border — and how that isn't enough education for Canadians.

A statement from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says it doesn't matter if marijuana is legal in a state, because marijuana continues to be a controlled substance under federal law, which "supersedes state laws."

"They make no distinction, nor do they even care what a single state does. It's a federal law," said Masse.

The statement also says that Canadians who work in the legal marijuana industry in Canada crossing the border unrelated to the industry will "generally be admissible," but may be inadmissible if they're crossing for marijuana industry-related reasons.

He said the prime minister should have had this conversation with the U.S. during the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiations.

Masse says on the pamphlet he received in the mail about cannabis, there was only one bullet point on crossing the border. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Masse said it would be dangerous for people who may leave marijuana in their car by accident, or have an odour, when they cross the border.

"Make sure you have your own house in order," said Masse. "Make sure that it's not in cars, it's not in your materials."

And people need to make sure they are "well-versed" on what to say when they cross over.

However, that doesn't mean you would lie to border officials, he said.

"If you go about that, then your repercussions are significant."

Masse wants the federal government to have an "adult conversation" with the U.S. to arrive at some sort of understanding that would protect Canadians after legalization happens.

Recreational marijuana will become legal Oct. 17 and people over the age of 19 will be able to purchase it through the online Ontario Cannabis Store.