Bill C-45: The Cannabis Act and the Canadian Visitor to the United States of America

The Canadian government’s legislation to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana has been passed by Parliament and has received Royal assent. Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act however, will not come into effect until October 17th, 2018.

What will be the impact of legalizing marijuana have on the Canadian visitor wishing to cross the border and enter the United States of America?

Once the Cannabis Act becomes law, the recreational use of marijuana will become legal and there will be an established framework to control its production, distribution, sale and possession across Canada. This framework will include government approved retail outlets under provincial regulation and authority, which will make the substance readily accessible to all adult Canadians.

Several States in the United States have passed similar legislation. However, the fact remains that in the United States, cannabis remains a controlled substance under Federal legislation and its use or possession continues to be a criminal offence, even though in some States it has been legalized. Although this anomaly may have very little impact on American citizens, its impact on Canadian citizens and foreign nationals seeking entry into the country continues to be problematic. The legalization of cannabis in Canada will only exacerbate the problem. Until more detailed guidelines are announced by the U.S. Government agencies responsible for immigration and border protection, prudence and caution seem to be in order.