Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens worried legal pot will be a pain at North America's busiest border crossing

Before cannabis becomes legal, Canada's Senate is studying the government's legislation and the potential consequences of it. On Monday, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens spoke to a Senate committee about what the city needs before the bill can pass.

Windsor's mayor spoke before a Senate committee that is reviewing Canada's cannabis bill

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens spoke before a senate committee Monday, expressing his concerns around the legalization of cannabis in Canada. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Before cannabis becomes legal, Canada's Senate is studying the government's legislation and the potential consequences of it.

On Monday, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens spoke to a Senate committee about what the city needs before the bill can pass.

"I am concerned about any additional delays at our border crossing," said Dilkens, who appeared by video chat after his plane was delayed and couldn't attend the meeting in person.

The mayor said hundreds of medical professionals, students, and auto workers cross the border between Windsor and Detroit each day, and he's worried about that and cross-broder trade in general. 

One quarter of all U.S.-Canada trade crosses at Windsor-Detroit, making it the busiest border crossing in North America.

Jonathan Blackham, director of policy and public affairs at the Canadian Trucking Association, echoed the mayors comments when it came to trade. 

Jonathan Blackham, director of policy and public affairs at the Canadian Trucking Association, said delays for transport trucks carrying goods cost big bucks for the consumer. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

He said it costs a carrier company about $100 each hour a transport vehicle is delayed. Blackham said in addition to that, there could be late penalties on the goods being delivered or other breaks in contract that could amount to much more than that.

When asked by a Senator if the public would absorb those potential costs due to delays, Blackham said "yes."

Education a factor

Dilkens said he anticipates that legalization will draw thousands of new U.S. visitors into Canada. He said he's worried about questioning at the border for both Canadian and U.S. citizens who may not be aware of the laws.

"We fully anticipate a significant number of cannabis tourists," said Dilkens.

Specifically, Dilkens said he's concerned about questions of past-use of cannabis once it becomes legal. He said he's worried about how laws will be enforced if someone answers "yes" to using in the past, even if it is currently legal. 

This file photo shows Aphira, in Leamington, Ont., one of Canada's largest growers of medicinal cannabis. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Attorney Scott Railton with Cascadia Cross-Border Law also took part in the meeting. He said that the U.S. federal government treats cannabis the same as it does heroin, cocaine, and other Schedule I substances, meaning there could be big ramifications for residents carrying the substance over the border. 

Railton said there is many "unknowns" when it comes to dealing with cannabis at the border and that the U.S. government has been "short on guidance" to cities and border patrol officers. 

That's something Dilkens is also concerned with.

He's afraid the majority of policing will rest on the municipality's shoulders, with inadequate federal support. Dilkens said a "significant" amount should be spent on education on both sides of the border. 

"I don't think Rome is going to burn," said Dilkens, referring to the time it will take for residents to learn the law around cannabis.

"From today until that norm takes hold, how do we advise people?" he asked the Senate committee.