In a meeting with a group of Canadian Conservative senators, Jeff Sessions and Trump administration officials expressed concerns over Canada’s upcoming plans to legalize recreational cannabis. According to VICE News, US officials specifically expressed worries regarding how Canada’s legalization efforts will affect the border.
Quick backstory: Canadian legalization is the result of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the country’s Liberal government. But these Conservative senators fall in line with their US counterparts and have openly opposed legalization. Frustration mounted due to the “empty answers and broken record” responses from the Liberal government about proposed cannabis laws, so these Conservative Senators sought out meetings in Washington DC
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Speaking with VICE, Senator Claude Carignan stated the Canadian delegation met with Sessions and other officials for 45 minutes. The US Department of Justice would not comment on the meetings, though did confirm they took place.
Carignan told VICE that Trump administration officials “raised concerns about a possible increase in illegal cannabis trafficking across the US-Canada border, and possible illegal cannabis activities occurring on Indigenous reserves that straddle the border—although Carignan said they didn’t specify a particular reserve.”
What they have seen in Colorado is that they have seen new [cartels] that have used the legal activities to cover their trafficking,” Carignan said. “They produce more than what they need and they traffick [the cannabis].
In addition, Sessions and Homeland Security Officials said legalization could cause problems for Canadians crossing the border. Canadians could be subjected to increased security screenings and delayed at the border.
“They know that they will have more secondary inspection because if the dogs that they use at the border are very good … if people smoke cannabis and they keep the same clothes … they will smell the cannabis and so automatically they will put the people at the secondary inspection,” Carignan told VICE. “It will delay the travelers from not only for those who have inspections, but for the regular travelers. If they spend more time on secondary, they will have less border agents to take care of the regular travelers.”
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During last month’s committee hearing focused on Canada’s proposed cannabis legislation, Canadian Senators heard testimony from immigration and drug policy experts that warned of such complications. However, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has repeated that Canadians shouldn’t worry. In addition, he’s stated the lack of concern for U.S. border guards to beef up screening Canadian citizens.
“Our message [to Americans] is this should not be an issue,” Goodale said during another Senate Committee last month. “It becomes an issue if you make it one, but there’s no need to make it one because the border rules have not changed.”