Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In just a few more sleeps, Santa and his trusty reindeer will be making their rounds, sprinkling holiday magic on households worldwide, and packing a few snacks into the red suit along the way.
READ MORE: One year later: here's what travellers should know about Canada's Cannabis Act
But this year, Santa will have to be a bit more cautious when reaching for the cookies in Canada, especially if he and the reindeer squad intend on making a few more deliveries, given that on Dec. 17, edible cannabis products are officially legal for purchase online in select parts of Canada.
And Santa won't be the only one who has to be cautious about flying with edibles.
The Canadian Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) came into effect on Oct. 17, 2018, effectively decriminalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana, regardless of whether or not an individual possesses a valid medical marijuana license. Though edible cannabis products were also decriminalized, products only recently became available for purchase online via the government's website due to separate provincial legislation.
From a travellers standpoint, the Act means that Canadians travelling domestically can pack up to 30 grams of cannabis in a carry-on, without facing any legal ramifications. Internationally, things are still a little bit different, though —regardless of U.S. state laws, it remains a federal offence to transport cannabis or cannabis products across the border.
"Between December 15 and January 5, we're expecting 2.85 million passengers to travel through Toronto Pearson," Toris Gass, senior communications advisor, Greater Toronto Airports Authority. "That's just over 130,000 per day, with a peak of 138,000 travelling through the airport tomorrow."
So, over the holidays, though you might be tempted to spread a little holiday cheer with friends and family via Grandma’s traditional shortbread recipe tucked into a sneaky little tin, the Canadian Border Services Agency is urging Canadians to make a mental travel list, and check it twice.
"The illicit cross-border movement of cannabis remains a serious criminal offence, punishable with imprisonment of up to five years under the Customs Act and up to 14 years under the Cannabis Act," said Mark Stuart, spokesperson, CBSA. "In cases where cannabis is declared, an officer may choose to seize the imported goods under section 110 of the Customs Act and issue an administrative monetary penalties (AMP) to deter traveller non-compliance."
Leave the special baked goods behind
Regardless of whether it’s 30 grams of pure cannabis product, or 30 grams dispensed in your holiday baking, edible cannabis products cannot travel outside of Canada, whether you fly or drive across an international border crossing.
Besides having your holiday baking taken away, travelling with cannabis edibles could also mean serious jail time.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforces the laws of the United States and U.S. laws will not change following Canada’s legalization of marijuana,” a CBP officer told PAX in an interview. “Requirements for international travellers wishing to enter the United States are governed by and conducted in accordance with U.S. federal law, which supersedes state laws. Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. federal law. Consequently, crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry in violation of this law may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension.”
Edible cannabis products, including baked goods, gummies, candies and beverages can now be purchased by retailers, in store and online in B.C., S.K., MB., and Atlantic Canada as of Dec. 17, but those in O.N., Q.C. and Atla. might have to wait until at least mid-January to make any purchases, as these three provinces run their own distribution systems, which have stricter regulations, CTV News reports.
Do’s & don’t’s of cannabis travel
Following the latest updates on cannabis travel to include edibles, here's an overview of what's okay in Canada, and what isn't:
- Up to 30 grams of cannabis can be brought onto a domestic flight, regardless of the airline.
- Residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Northwest Territories must be 19 years of age or older to buy cannabis. Only Alberta and Quebec allow residents aged 18 and older to purchase cannabis.
- The legal limit in all Canadian provinces and territories is 30 grams, regardless of what form it's in.
- Canadians may enter and exit various provinces and territories via land with no more than 30 grams of cannabis without facing legal ramifications.
- Taking cannabis across Canada's borders can result in up to 14 years in jail.
For a full list of safe cannabis travel tips this holiday season, click here!
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