Power & Politics

Congressman says new cannabis border law could land if Democrats take control next month

A Democrat congressman says he hopes to see new legislation aimed at clearing up problems at the Canada-U.S. border posed by cannabis legalization if his party takes control of Congress in next month's midterm elections.

Democrat floats legislative fix for problems posed by legal weed at the U.S. border

The U.S. Capitol Building is lit at sunset in Washington, U.S., December 20, 2016. (REUTERS)

A Democrat member of the U.S. House of Representatives signalled Tuesday that Congress could see a vote on a new law aimed at tackling Canada-U.S. border complications posed by the legalization of cannabis in Canada after next month's midterm elections.

"We are talking to the Department of Homeland Security to try and address these issues in a more constructive manner," Rep. Lou Correa said Tuesday in an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

"It's my hope that as soon as the elections are over, we can sit down and talk about what is it that Homeland needs from us, Congress, to move forward on this issue. I'm hoping that they come up with some suggestive legislative language. Otherwise, we'll run with our own.

"And if Democrats should take the majority in Congress, then I'm hoping we'll be able to come up with some legislation that will actually be heard in Congress."

Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection updated a border policy to say Canadians travelling to the U.S. generally will be admissible as long as their travel is unrelated to the cannabis industry.

The policy update followed a report by the U.S. news website Politico, citing a senior U.S. border official, that said Canadians who work or invest in the cannabis industry risk a lifetime ban on travel to the U.S.

Correa said the updated policy is not good enough because it doesn't address the barriers that U.S. law imposes on potential commerce between the cannabis industries of both countries.

"What we need to do is really take a deep breath and say what is it that we need to do to make sure that this legitimate business, both in Canada and the U.S., continues to be a legitimate business and our federal laws in the U.S. don't get in the way," he said.

Correa suggested that a legislative fix could involve the reclassification of cannabis in U.S. drug law.

Cannabis is currently classified under U.S. law as a Schedule 1 drug, alongside heroin, LSD and ecstasy. Schedule 1 drugs are defined as "drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

Americans head to the polls in three weeks for highly-anticipated midterm elections. Every seat in Congress, and one-third of the seats in the Senate, are up for election.

"I'm hoping that in a year you and I can talk and we can say the United States is on the eve of major change legislatively when it comes to cannabis," said Correa.

U.S. Democratic Representative Lou Correa joined Power & Politics Tuesday to discuss a possible legislative solution to Canada-U.S. border complications caused by cannabis legalization in Canada. 6:24

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