Pubdate: Thu, 10 May 2018
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Times Colonist
Author: Les Leyne=09


Some time this summer, marijuana will be legal in Canada. It's
already legal in Washington state and has been for four years.

But Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth warned this week that
there's a significant problem looming at the border crossing,
because it's still going to be illegal there.

It makes no sense whatsoever, but the U.S. federal government controls
the border crossing, and marijuana is still nominally illegal in the
U.S. federally.

"People [meaning, cannabis users] are going to naturally assume, on
either side of the border, that they cross back and forth because
it's legal in each jurisdiction,a" told the house. "But the
reality is it will not be legal at that federal border crossing."

Farnworth said the issue has been raised with the U.S. consulate and
at the highest levels in Washington, and B.C. representatives have
learned that American officials "have absolutely zero interest in
dealing with the problems that are going to arise. They've told us
that in no uncertain terms."

He said there is the potential for ordinary citizens who are doing
something legal in Canada crossing the border "having to answer a
question, and if they reply truthfully, they can be denied access."

Moving cannabis across the border will still be illegal. The issue is
about admitting to using it, even legally. People who do so could
potentially face fines and seizure of their vehicles for admitting to
behaviour that would be legal in both Canada and in Washington state.

The implicit message is that under no circumstances should B.C.
citizens tell the truth if asked about pot consumption
post-legalization at the border. But they'd better hope there's no
online record of them purchasing cannabis that's easily accessible
to U.S. Homeland Security.

It's a fantastically nonsensical scenario, but Farnworth saidit is
a little-known consequence of what is taking place with legalization,
and there needs to be a lot of education about it.

"I think it is one of the great, little-known issues that we are
going to be facing."=C2=9D

His remarks came during debate on Motor Vehicle Act changes that are
being introduced to recognize the legalization of marijuana. They were
part of a slight shift in tone.

B.C. has for months been warning there's a very tight timeline for
getting the legal framework in place, but the government is doing the
best it can to meet it.

This week, Farnworth expressed a degree of frustration with the
process, and some relief that the original deadline is a thing of the
past. It was to be July 1, but the new target date is now "later
this summer."

Farnworth said: "I'm hoping it's later, into September or October. The
later the better, frankly."

He said the B.C. bills are required because of decisions being made in

"We have to have it in place, even though we donat know yet what
the final bill that Ottawa is going to pass will actually look like."

Police say there still isn't enough time, and Farnworth said the
federal government has to come up with police training money,
something that is underway, if it wants to follow its timetable.

The Motor Vehicle Act changes set up a regime for testing and dealing
with drug impairment that's slightly different from the current
alcohol impairment. Police now can do roadside breath tests and get
instant readings of impairment. But with suspicion of cannabis
impairment, an officer qualified as a "drug recognition expert"?=C2=9D is

required to get involved in the process and get a saliva sample or
cheek swab, which could lead to a demand for a urine or blood sample.

B.C. Liberal critics warned the minister there are problems ahead.
There could be long lineups at road checks if there's only one
qualified expert on hand, and more overtime costs because of the extra
work involved.

While everyone waits for a technology breakthrough - a quick, easy
scientific test for cannabis impairment - the degree of subjectivity
in the current system caused some concern.

Just So You Know: The bill passed third reading Tuesday, and one of
the changes means administrative driving prohibitions for alcohol
impairment take effect instantly, rather than 21 days after the
offence. But it will take seven days to impose the same driving
ban for cannabis impairment, because of the need for tests.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt