Pubdate: Thu, 22 Sep 2016
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Windsor Star
Author: Doug Schmidt
Page: A4


Security director says it's unclear whether move will cause delays

DETROIT - Could a pot-smoking Canada trigger congestion along the
United States border?

As the Trudeau government presses ahead with plans to legalize the
sale and purchase of pot, some are wondering whether it could result
in longer wait times at the approximate 120 official ports of entry
along the northern border.

"It's an unknown now, but it could have the effect of really slowing
down, not just travellers, but truckers, too," said Stan Korosec,
director of security and Canadian government relations for the Detroit
International Bridge Co.

"It may thicken the border here," said Korosec, whose Ambassador
Bridge carries a quarter of all merchandise trade between the two countries.

One of the concerns of Korosec and others is that, once Canada starts
toking up, those who have consumed pot queuing up at the U.S. border,
including American visitors returning home, might trip the alarm
system of drug-sniffing dogs and other detection measures deployed by
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

"Will there be increased secondary inspections and delays? It's an
unknown right now," Korosec said.

In an age of just-in-time cross-border commercial deliveries, and at a
time when both countries appear to have finally found a balance
between the post-9-11 needs of security and of keeping trade flowing,
a renewed thickening of the border would be bad news for the economies
of both nations.

A Canadian task force headed by Anne McLellan, a former federal
minister in the health, justice and public safety portfolios, has
wrapped up its public consultations on ways to legalize the sale and
purchase of pot. It will report back to Ottawa with recommendations by
the end of November, and the Trudeau government has pledged to
introduce legislation during the spring 2017 parliamentary session.

While several states, including Colorado and Oregon, have legalized
pot, a former head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency told the Star
this week there's "no likelihood" the U.S. federal government will
follow suit any time soon on the legalization of pot sales.

Robert Bonner, who is also a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection
commissioner and California judge, said it's still his hope that
Canada doesn't move toward legalization.

Bonner, senior principal with Sentinel Strategy & Policy Consulting,
was one of the moderators at a two-day U.S./Canada Border Conference
in Detroit this week. With top border, drug and police officials in
attendance, Canada's potential softening on drugs was a topic of
discussion. But Korosec wasn't able to elicit much of a response to
his questions on whether pot legalization in Canada will cause trade
and travel troubles at the border.

"Operationally, it could become an issue," said Todd Owen, executive
assistant commissioner in the field operations office of U.S. Customs
and Border Protection. "You still have to follow the Immigration and
Naturalization Act ... (and its) very clear rules."

Until there's new legislation, "the law is the law and we're there to
enforce it," said Caroline Xavier, vice-president of the Canada Border
Services Agency's operations branch.

"When the dogs start making hits on cars, you're going to have a lot
of secondaries," said James Phillips, president and CEO of the
Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance.

"People are going to have to be smart about it - you don't drive up to
the border with alcohol on your breath or open bottles in your
vehicle," said Business Council of Canada president and chief
executive John Manley, another keynote speaker at the conference.

"When you approach the border, turn your brain on," said Manley, a
former Canadian deputy prime minister.

"I don't think it's a huge issue," said Luc Portelance, president and
CEO of CrossPoint Integrated Strategies Inc. and a former president of
the Canada Border Services Agency. While "quite neutral" on the topic
of marijuana legalization in Canada, Portelance said any
"misalignment" between Canadian and American laws will require an
effort by border personnel to interpret its handling. That could mean

"But it's not a showstopper," said Portelance.
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