CTA representatives appeared this week before the Committee on National Security and Defence on Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, to discuss the potential impacts legalization will have on the Canada-US border.
Bill C-45, dealing with the legalization of cannabis, is now being examined in five separate Senate committees and has raised concerns over how legalization will impact border security and processing.
Jonathan Blackham, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, and Lak Shoan, Director Policy and Industry Awareness Programs sent a clear message to legislators – there is no reason, post-legalization, for US CBP to slow down or pay special attention to commercial vehicles and drivers crossing the US border.
To date, much of the conversation has focused on passenger vehicles and the potential for US border officials to step up enforcement after cannabis is legalized in Canada. Concerns are also emerging over what might happen to those who admit to using cannabis to US border officials, even after it is legal in Canada. These issues have extended to commercial vehicles crossing the border, with a general concern that legalization may lead to a ‘thickening’ of the border and increased crossing times for all vehicles.
As Blackham explained to the Committee, Canadian commercial vehicle drivers operating in the U.S. are already governed by strict rules set up by the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) when it comes to drug and alcohol use, of which cannabis is listed substance. As a result, the legal status of cannabis in Canada – one way or another – would have little impact on commercial vehicle drivers crossing the border as they already comply with US regulations clearly listing cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance.
However, as Blackham noted, even if it’s business as usual for commercial vehicles, increased delays at the border for passenger vehicles could still spillover and eventually impact access for trucks to the commercial lanes. As a result, if there is an expectation more vehicles will be sent to secondary inspection, there needs to be a plan in place to ensure this doesn’t result in long delays that extend throughout the border queue, added Blackham.
“Anything that negatively impacts, slows down or restricts access to the U.S. market for Canadian carriers will ultimately flow through in its consequences to the wider Canadian economy,” he told the Committee.
CTA is preparing correspondence to US CBP emphasizing the legalization of cannabis doesn’t change anything for Canadian commercial drivers attempting to enter the US and therefore commercial vehicles at the border shouldn’t be slowed down because of any concerns border officials may have about legalization’s effect on the general motoring public.