Masse says government is ill-prepared for pot issues at the border

Windsor West MP Brian Masse outside the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, October 11, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

A local member of Parliament is saying the federal government has not adequately prepared people for the potential consequences of crossing the border with legal cannabis.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana less than a week away across Canada, Windsor West MP Brian Masse is urging border-crossers to avoid hassles by becoming educated on having pot in their possession at the border.

Speaking at a media event Thursday morning outside the Windsor entrance to the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, Masse said despite the impending legality of the drug in Canada, it is still a no-no in the United States.

“Cannabis, when they cross the border, will still be a controlled substance and an illicit drug in the United States, which will have severe repercussions when crossing the border,” said Masse.

Masse particularly criticized the Liberal government’s Cannabis Act awareness campaign, using as a prop the information card that is currently being mailed out to Canadians. The card, according to Masse, only contains a general paragraph reiterating that recreational pot remains illegal in the States, and he says that is very inadequate.

“The government has spent around $4 million in advertising on this, and this is the only thing, where we have 33 million people that cross back and forth in trips between Canada and the U.S. per year, that we have received,” said Masse.

The cards are part of a five-year, $46 million effort by the federal government to educate Canadians about legal marijuana.

Masse recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where he met with senior officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection that made it clear that even though some states have legalized recreational cannabis, it is still an illegal substance. Masse said those who work for legal cannabis operations in Canada could particularly have a hard time.

“Canadians have been detained and sent back, and some have actually been barred for the United States for investing in cannabis operations that are legal in Canada,” said Masse. “Some, just by the mere practice of it being around their co-workers, are supplying the industry.”

The U.S. CBP issued a statement this week saying that those who do work in the legal cannabis industry could be barred from the U.S. if they’re going on business. However, those pot workers crossing for personal, non-work reasons will be allowed to enter.

Masse is also reminding people to be truthful about their intentions while crossing, as being caught lying to border personnel can have consequences of its own.

Cannabis becomes legal nationwide on October 17.

Windsor West MP Brian Masse shows reporters the information card sent to residents concerning the upcoming legalization of recreational cannabis outside the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, October 11, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Related story: CBP will allow marijuana workers to enter U.S.