While Canada legalized cannabis last year, there are still important restrictions to be aware of if you’re travelling with the substance. Here are the most vital ones to remember.
YOU CAN’T TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY WITH CANNABIS
Possessing and consuming cannabis in Canada may be legal, but it’s still illegal to cross an international border with the drug, whether you’re flying or driving. You can’t even take a small amount into a country or U.S. state where cannabis is legal.
If you ignore those rules and you’re caught, don’t expect just a slap on the wrist. The Canadian government says you face “serious criminal penalties” both abroad and at home.
For travellers to the United States, it’s worth noting that American Customs and Border Protection officers have broad leeway when it comes to applying the country’s drug enforcement laws. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Canada advises that anyone who is “determined to be a drug abuser or addict” could be denied entry into the United States—potentially for life. Likewise, Canadians who work in the cannabis industry may also be turned back at the border if they are “found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the cannabis industry.”
IT’S ILLEGAL TO BRING CANNABIS INTO CANADA
It remains illegal to bring cannabis across the border, in any amount, whether or not it’s for medical purposes, and even if it’s brought in from another country where the drug is also legal. That’s because the federal government has put in place strict regulations on the production, distribution and sale of cannabis in Canada. If you’re caught bringing cannabis into Canada from elsewhere, it would be confiscated, and you could be charged with a crime.
YOU CAN’T BRING MORE THAN 30 GRAMS OF CANNABIS ON A DOMESTIC FLIGHT
You’re allowed to bring cannabis on flights within Canada, but you can only take the personal possession limit of 30 grams, according to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
MORE TO READ
An update on cannabis edibles in Canada
You can pack cannabis in either your carry-on or checked baggage. If you’re hauling cannabis oils, though, remember that there’s a 100-millilitre limit for all liquids in carry-on bags. And don’t flout the rules for the personal possession limit; if airport security catches you with more than 30 grams, they’re required to call the police.
YOU’LL NEED TO PACK CANNABIS AWAY FOR A ROAD TRIP
While cannabis is legal across Canada, each province and territory has its own laws around how you can transport cannabis and where you can consume it. If you want to bring it on a road trip through Alberta, it must be secured in closed packaging and kept out of reach of the driver or any passengers in the vehicle.
Once you’re out of the car, the rules for actually consuming cannabis in public vary depending on where you are; each municipality in Alberta sets its own guidelines. In Edmonton you may use cannabis on sidewalks, for example, but not within 10 metres of a bus stop or a doorway, window or air intake of a building. On the other hand, in Calgary, public consumption is completely prohibited.
Legislation likewise differs from province to province: Ontario is fairly relaxed about public cannabis consumption, but other provinces, such as New Brunswick, don’t allow cannabis use in public. Before you leave home, read up on the laws of the province you’re visiting.
IT’S ALWAYS DANGEROUS TO DRIVE UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Drug-impaired driving is dangerous and illegal in every province in Canada. It’s a safe bet to assume the same prohibition applies in other countries where cannabis use has been decriminalized.
MORE TO READ
When to say yes to rental car insurance
If you intend to use cannabis while on vacation, always have a designated driver, just as you would if you were drinking. And before you partake, be absolutely certain it’s legal to do so. While some jurisdictions now have a relatively laissez-faire attitude toward cannabis, it remains heavily policed elsewhere.
CANNABIS USE MAY IMPACT YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE COVERAGE
As with any drug, cannabis comes with risks if you misuse or abuse it. Under such circumstances, you should not count on travel insurance to shield you from negative impacts.
For example, if you’re involved in an accident or have a medical emergency resulting from the misuse or abuse of drugs, including cannabis—even if cannabis is legal where you’re travelling—your insurance claim would be denied. (Users of doctor-prescribed medicinal cannabis may still be covered in the event of a claim, provided you did not misuse or abuse the drug.)
Likewise, you will not be covered for trip cancellation if you’re denied entry into a country due to possession of cannabis or your acknowledged use of the drug.
To be safe, it’s best to avoid using recreational cannabis in any location where it’s not legal to do so. And always review your travel insurance policy before you depart on any trip.
*With files from Andrew Raven