Pubdate: Tue, 27 Feb 2018
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 The Windsor Star
Author: Craig Pearson
Page: A1


U.S. consul general and mayor issue warning to travellers

Canada's pending marijuana legalization may end up slowing more than
just pot users' reaction times - it could slow the whole border, Mayor
Drew Dilkens and U.S. Consul General Juan Alsace suggested Monday.
Dilkens and Alsace chatted at the mayor's office Monday about border
issues, including NAFTA negotiations, international trade, Great Lakes
health and the Trudeau government's intention to legalize recreational
use of marijuana. Both officials said problems at the U.S. border
could be sparked if pot is legalized in Canada as proposed some time
in the summer. "I think it's a real issue," Dilkens said after the
private meeting with Alsace, who travelled to Windsor from Toronto for
the informal chat. "And I think it's an issue that folks in this area
need to be attuned to. "Obviously, being in the Windsor area, we rely
on our ability to go across the border seamlessly and frequently.
People buy groceries over there, people go shopping for the day over

The problem: the United States will still ban recreational marijuana
when Canada's cannabis prohibition goes up in smoke. "You may have
honest law-abiding people who have smoked cannabis and then get asked
a question crossing the border about whether they have smoked
marijuana and answer truthfully and be disqualified from entering the
United States for up to 10 years, even if they have done nothing
illegal and were honest with the customs officer," Dilkens said. "So
it's a concern that people need to be aware of. It's a real issue in a
border city. I'm quite certain you will have an increase of
enforcement on the U.S. side. You will have folks who buy marijuana
legally here and put it in the glovebox or something and forget about
it - and then a customs dog sniffs it." Alsace reiterated Dilkens's
point that Canadians must bear in mind the United States is a
different country.

"We have our own laws in the United States," Alsace said. "Cannabis
will remain illegal. So you don't want to try crossing the border
carrying pot."

Alsace also thinks once Canada legalizes weed that the border may take
longer to navigate.

"If there's another procedure in place, on top of the usual questions
being asked, it could conceivably slow cross-border travel," said
Alsace. "I suspect if you're crossing the border and you're carrying
marijuana, that should certainly stop you from entering the United

U.S. customs officers have held Canadian citizens for long periods in
the past, searching for drugs such as marijuana in suspect vehicles.
Travellers have also been banned from entering either Canada or the
United States for a number of infractions, including drugs. On top of
the increased scrutiny that may arise at the border when marijuana is
legalized, Dilkens suspects more American tourists might cross into
Canada for the chance to enjoy legal pot, which may add to the border
line. "We've been thinking for quite some time here about what it will
mean to Windsor and what kind of traffic we will get from across the
border," Dilkens said. "We expect to see an influx but we're still
trying to determine what that influx will be. "We don't expect it will
be the type of folks that were here during the kiddie bar phase,
because you're going to still need a passport. We'll probably have
people who are a little more mature, who have the means to cross the

Another issue that could affect cross-border travel, and which Dilkens
discussed with the consul general, is the negotiations surrounding the
North American Free Trade Agreement, which continued with renewed
tension on Monday between Canada, the United States and Mexico. U.S.
President Donald Trump has tweeted in the past that he considers NAFTA
the "worst trade deal ever made" and that it might be terminated.
Reports suggest he had a tense call with Mexican President Enrique
Pena Nieto, who cancelled plans to visit the White House over Trump's
continued demand that Mexico pay for a border wall.

"With NAFTA, it's the erratic comments coming from the president of
the United States that are concerning," Dilkens said. "But it seems
like there is some traction being made on the ground (during
negotiations), which is positive. Hopefully, everyone will get to
where they need to be to make sure that people and goods can flow
easily across the border."
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