Pubdate: Wed, 07 Feb 2018
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Alexander Panetta
Page: A3


WASHINGTON - American officials have been quietly raising questions
about whether Canada's marijuana legalization might slow traffic at
the border, and are being told by their northern neighbours there's no
reason that should happen.

The issue has come up in phone calls between high-level officials and
again in passing this week during a first face-toface encounter
between Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and his U.S. counterpart,
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

It hasn't been contentious, he said. "The only thing they say is,
'Will this cause lineups?'" Goodale said in an interview.

"And our answer is: 'Not unless you change your procedures. And
there's no reason for you to change your procedures.' Because the law
with respect to the border hasn't changed one iota."

He said it came up briefly on the tail end of the meeting with Nielsen
and in past phone conversations. Federal officials say there has been
no attempt to pressure Canada - that the U.S. has expressed respect
for Canada's sovereign decisions.

It's a far cry from the conversation of the early 2000s.

At that time, the Bush administration strenuously argued against
marijuana decriminalization.

And in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, public figures in both countries
expressed alarm over anything that might cause additional border
checks and worsen delays for cargo shipments.

Now the U.S. has nine states with legal marijuana and numerous others
that have decriminalized it. The border is more sophisticated. And the
Canadian view is that there's no reason for traffic snags - because
it's just as illegal to transport pot across the border as it ever

"They do (raise it). Because they know the Canadian law is changing,"
Goodale said.

"They're saying they don't anticipate any great change. But I think
there is some concern that Canadian law is changing, and does that
cause them to behave in a different way. The answer should be no."

There are still a few months before Canada's policy comes into

The government has projected it will take effect in July, but there
are lingering doubts with the legalization bill facing heavy scrutiny
in the Senate.

Goodale said the Canadian government also intends to work on public
awareness of the rules - and the legal risks of bringing drugs to the
U.S. border: "We'll make sure that the rules are clear," he said.
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