Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/11/2017 – that’s before recreational cannabis was legal in Canada, so language and information in the article may be dated.
Dear Herb: The first time I ever smoked weed was in Jamaica in the 1980s when my family first started going there on winter holidays. Though I never brought any home, I was always terrified the drug-sniffing dogs at the airport would give my habit away.
Since Jamaica has recently decriminalized marijuana for personal use and it will no longer be illegal in Canada, will tourists be allowed to bring small amounts of pot home with them, either for their own use or as a smokable souvenir?
Conversely, can we take our own stash with us when we visit the island?
And will those dogs have to be retrained to ignore the smell of pot? — Gotta Get Ganja, Manitoba
Dear Gotta Get Ganja: I just had a vision of you in the 1980s, puff-puff-passing on the beach in Montego Bay while grooving to the Exodus cassette in your Walkman.
Nice perm, my friend.
As the federal Cannabis Act and the government's proposed cannabis regulations stand right now, individual Canadians will definitely not be allowed to bring foreign marijuana into Canada after legalization. Nor will you be able to bring your legal Canadian stash across the border to Jamaica, or any other country for that matter.Advertisement
Only entities with valid import/export permits from the Canadian government will be permitted to move marijuana across the border after legalization. The Cannabis Act would impose harsh penalties on anyone who imports or exports cannabis illegally.
I put your question about drug-sniffing dogs to the Canada Border Services Agency. In an email, CBSA media relations officer Jacqueline Callin said the agency's dog training will not be impacted by the imminent marijuana legalization.
"The role of the detector dog remains the same," she said. "The CBSA, through its programs and services, will continue to uphold laws governing the illegal cross-border movement of cannabis, while maintaining the free flow of legitimate travel and trade."
There you have it, GGG: those hard-sniffing border pooches will continue their eternal search for that heady ganja aroma.
You clearly have no trouble finding weed in Jamaica, and marijuana ought to be especially easy to find in Canada after legalization. My advice: don't put yourself at risk by taking your stash on an international voyage.
Dear Herb: I am interested in opening up a retail store to sell weed once it's legalized but I am having difficulties finding out how to proceed with this. I am wondering if you knew how to get into this biz opportunity? — Wanna-be Weed Retailer, Canada
Dear Wanna-be: I admire your entrepreneurial spirit! Unfortunately, your plan to get into the legal retail cannabis game might not be possible, depending on where you'd like to open your store.
If you're aiming for a store in Ontario, Quebec or New Brunswick, you're definitely out of luck. All three of those provinces plan to restrict retail cannabis sales to government-owned stores only.
Alberta, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador have announced plans to allow private cannabis retail stores. If you want to apply, sharpen your pencil and break out your reading glasses, because you've got some homework to do.
British Columbia hasn't released its plan for cannabis retail, although B.C. Premier John Horgan has hinted private stores could be allowed.
Retail cannabis plans in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are also a mystery at this point, so keep an eye on the news if you're trying to get into one of those provinces.
As for the territories, Yukon's recently-announced plan leaves room for private retailers, although the territorial government intends to operate at least one retail store. In the Northwest Territories, it looks like the government will be selling cannabis through the NWT Liquor Commission, at least to start. Nunavut has not revealed its plan.
If you want to convince a provincial or territorial government to let you run a weed store, it's probably safe to assume you'll need a clean criminal record, a history of successful retail experience and plenty of capital to invest.
Good luck developing your business plan, Wanna-be — and don't forget to invite me to the grand opening!
Dear Herb: If marijuana is being regulated in a way that is similar to alcohol, will ever there be duty-free weed at the border? — Thrifty Toker, Manitoba
Dear Thrifty Toker: This is a fantastic question. I can just imagine the lines of travellers waiting to enter Canada to buy some duty-free doobies.
Canada's duty-free industry is taking a cautious approach to the idea, according to Abe Taqtaq, president of the Frontier Duty Free Association, which represents 26 land border duty-free stores across Canada.
Duty-free stores operate in a highly regulated environment that deals with several law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, Taqtaq told me.
"Until we get the clearance from all law enforcement agencies, ministries and departments that cannabis sales would be allowed in both countries and be legal in both countries, we as an association and a duty-free industry will not be pursuing it until such time," he said.
In other words, Canada's duty-free stores need to play nice with Uncle Sam, not just Johnny Canuck. With anti-cannabis Attorney General Jeff Sessions heading up the U.S. Department of Justice these days, it's hard to see the U.S. giving its blessing to this idea.
Thanks for the letters, everyone! Until next time.
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