On October 17, 2018, Canada became just the second country on earth to legalize cannabis for adults. Now, anywhere within the borders of the 3.8 million square miles of land that makes Canada the second-largest country by area—in addition to being the country with the highest prevalence of cannabis use—adults aged 18, and in some places 19, can legally buy, possess and consume weed. And if you aren’t one of the nearly 37 million people that live there, you’ve probably thought about taking a little trip to see what life is like under legalization. Or if you’re already there, maybe you’re looking at a couple grams of leftover flower next to your boarding pass and packed bag and asking yourself, “can I bring weed out of Canada?”
It’s a good question. And one you might be considering if you’re traveling back to a place where you can’t legally obtain cannabis, or if you’re a medical cannabis patient or caregiver, or just someone who’s having a hard time gifting; or worse, tossing the weed you didn’t have the chance to enjoy before the end of your stay. Deep down, you probably already know what the answer is. But isn’t there some way, any way, you can bring this amazing, legal weed out of Canada? Back home with you, or on to your next destination?
Your first thought might be, if you happen to live in a U.S. state with legalized cannabis, that you must surely be able to bring weed out of Canada and back to your home in Oregon or Vermont. Weed is legal in Canada; weed is legal where you live. What’s the problem?
The border, of course! Even if you were traveling from British Columbia to Washington, the boundary between them is a federal border. And now you’re remembering how the U.S. government feels about cannabis. Oh yeah, it considers “marihuana” a Schedule I controlled substance. Bringing it across a national boundary into the U.S. is super illegal, even it it is legal on both sides of the border.
Ah, you say, but I’m a medical cannabis patient. I have all the required paperwork and documentation to show I am exempt from laws prohibiting cannabis possession and use where I live and where I’m traveling. So I’ll just go ahead and bring these buds in my carry-on, no problem.
Nope. Problem. We already ruled out the United States because of the whole federal prohibition thing. But maybe you live somewhere in Europe or South America where medical cannabis is legal. Can you bring weed out of Canada in this case, you eagerly, hopefully ask?
Each country or territory has the sovereign right to say what can enter or exit through its borders. But even if your destination allows you to enter with medical cannabis, Canada won’t let you exit with it. Whether legalized or decriminalized at one’s destination, Canadian law prohibits anyone from leaving the country with cannabis.
Maybe you’re taking a little weekend getaway; a short round-trip flight. You’ll barely be out of Canada for 72 hours. Can you bring your stash with you then, to ensure you enjoy yourself to the fullest? No. Sadly, no. We had to say it twice because doing this would break Canada’s laws as many times: once when you leave the country and once when you return.
Well, you could. I mean, now we’re getting into semantics, right? You can do anything you put your mind to. The human will is boundless, anarchic, free. But should you try to bring weed out of Canada by hiding it very well or baking it into a cookie? Well, if avoiding serious legal repercussions is something you’re into, you probably shouldn’t. Actually, you definitely shouldn’t.
We just thought it would be a good way to inform you that no matter what form your cannabis is in, you can’t legally exit the national territory of Canada with it. And in fact, if you have an edible or concentrate, you’ll also be giving yourself away to any authority that catches you that you made your purchase at an unlicensed seller—hence, illegally. Edibles and concentrates won’t be available on Canada’s provincial retail markets until next year.
Well wait, you say. I’m a proud Canadian. And I proudly consume legal cannabis, as is now my right as a Canadian. Indeed, congratulations are in order. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in Canada’s C-45 legislation that gives Canadian citizens special privileges when it comes to traveling with weed. Legalization, in other words, doesn’t travel with you. And you will face Crown prosecution if you try to take cannabis across Canada’s borders, which sounds as serious as it is.
Okay, now you’re just looking for any reason to bring weed out of Canada. If you have weed that doesn’t contain THC, like a pure CBD strain, the rules that apply to marijuana still apply. So no, you can’t travel with marijuana products, even if they have no THC. But what about CBD oil that comes from hemp? Yeah, you can travel with that. We’re just not talking about weed anymore. And there’s still no guarantee you won’t face a hassle for your CBD oil.
You, personally? No. Sorry. There’s no way you can bring weed out of Canada. Not legally, anyway. However, there is a way to bring weed out of Canada. And that’s if you happen to work as a transporter for a Canadian cannabis company, like Tilray for example, that has been authorized to export cannabis to another country—for research purposes.
Actually, there is one way anyone can bring weed out of Canada. In their system. You can carry as much THC as your body can absorb out of Canada, can’t you? So get in that final session right before you head to the airport! Just don’t, you know, say anything about it to any border guard or official. They can bar you from re-entering a country or you could face legal consequences in your country of residence if your cannabis use abroad is found out.