Original cannabis journalism for Canadians

Legal cannabis: You can't take it with you

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The "amnesty boxes" at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas include a reminder that cannabis possession is banned at the airport. (AP Photo/Regina Garcia Cano)

Public debate about cannabis legalization in Canada has focused mostly on domestic concerns. (How many plants can we grow in our condos? Won't there be an increase in impaired driving? Will all my employees start showing up to work stoned?)

Concerns about how legalization will impact non-Canadians are far less common — but rest assured, people from around the world will be travelling to Canada to try out the legal weed regime.

What happens when it's time for those canna-tourists to leave the True North Strong and Free and fly back to Kazakhstan or Kalamazoo?

Canadian airports and other ports of entry had better start figuring that out.

At the very least, they can follow the lead of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, where brand-new cannabis "amnesty boxes" give flyers one last chance to dump their leftover weed (and other drugs) before being searched at federally operated security checkpoints. Some airports in nearby Colorado offer the same amenity.

If Canadian airports don't provide an appropriate way for outbound tourists to dispose of their stashes immediately after legalization kicks in, those travellers will find their own ways to do so. It's easy to imagine unused weed getting tossed into airport garbage cans and toilets, dropped on the terminal floor, or being consumed right outside the airport in a last-minute frenzy.

It's also easy to imagine tourists trying to sneak their caches of cannabis across international borders. If they get caught in their home countries, that's bad news for them — and bad news for Canada, which probably wouldn't benefit from an international reputation as a source of drugs.

Amnesty boxes for cannabis at Canadian airports could help reduce the chances of that undesirable outcome.

That leads us to the really important question here: If Canadian airports do install amnesty boxes for cannabis tourists, who gets all that abandoned weed?


New on The Leaf

  • Benefit of the doubt: It's rare for Canadian employee health benefit plans to cover cannabis for medical purposes, but as two Canadian university students' unions have shown, it can be done.
  • Cross-border shopping: Our advice columnist Dear Herb helps a reader understand whether they'll be able to make legal, online cannabis purchases from outside their home province.
  • Nervous in the service: Like every other institution in Canada, the Canadian military has to come to grips with cannabis legalization. Top brass Gen. Jonathan Vance gave the Senate defence committee a few clues about how he plans to deal with legal weed in the armed forces.

Elsewhere on the Weed Wide Web

  • Hurry up and wait: Speaking of cannabis tourism, a U.S. diplomat warned the Windsor Star that legal cannabis could slow border crossings between the Ontario city and the nearby United States.
  • Light pollution: A giant grow-op to-be in Langley, B.C. is already pissing off the neighbours, and it isn't even the smell. As CTV Vancouver reports, the facility's high-powered lights have turned the night sky into "practically daylight," according to one local resident.
  • Legal reasoning: Leading Canadian cannabis business lawyer Trina Fraser gets profiled in Leafly. "The thing that fascinated me and continues to fascinate me is the intersection of politics, law and regulations, cultural and societal values, and business," Fraser explained to writer Harrison Jordan.

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