Even though both Michigan and Canada have legalized cannabis sales and possession for adult-use marijuana, it’s still illegal for those in Michigan to buy cannabis in Canada and cross the border with marijuana.
This is an issue that has come up for Americans who live near the border since Canada legalized marijuana nationwide in October 2018. Residents of Michigan, where legal marijuana sales are expected to begin in early 2020, can now possess marijuana even if they can’t yet buy it (unless it’s medical marijuana, which is available for purchase).
Those in Michigan find themselves in the same spot as Washington, another state with legal marijuana that borders Canada. It’s important to understand that you can’t cross the border with marijuana.
Illegal to Cross Border With Marijuana
Although many states have legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use, it remains an illegal drug at the federal level. It’s listed as a Schedule I drug, the highest level of illegal drugs, along with cocaine and heroin.
That means it’s a felony to cross the border with marijuana. That’s true even if it was legal in the country where you purchased it and legal in your home state. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol made a point of making this very clear after Canada started nationwide legal sales in 2018.
So, what happens if you do try to take weed bought in Canada and bring it into Michigan (or any other U.S. state)? You can face being denied admission into the U.S., having your marijuana seized, fines and even jail time.
Ultimately, it’s up to the officer in charge. A Customs and Border Patrol agent told NBC News that “determinations about admissibility and whether any regulatory or criminal enforcement is appropriate are made by a CBP officer based on the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time.”
In short, don’t try it. In addition to running afoul of border agents, you might also find yourself facing impaired driving charges under Michigan law, which includes driving under the influence of cannabis.
You Can Buy Cannabis in Canada
Americans can, however, buy cannabis in Canada, if they don’t try to bring it back. The laws vary by province, but you must be at least 19 (21 in some areas) to buy weed. You can buy or possess up to 30 grams. Products include cannabis flower, tinctures, capsules, and seeds, but cannabis edibles are not yet available in Canada.
As in the United States, most of Canada does not allow smoking or using marijuana in public spaces. Many hotels also do not allow marijuana use. That means people must find a private home or privately-owned bed and breakfast inn that allows for cannabis use.