Seems like the Canadian airline industry is going to pot — over pot.
A week doesn’t go by now that a reader doesn’t ask me: “What happens if my domestic flight is diverted to an American city and I have pot in my possession?”
Answer: You’re in big trouble.
A warning issued by Air Canada sums it up best: “In the case of a domestic flight, please be advised that unforeseen situations may and do arise that require a domestic flight to divert to a U.S. airport, where arriving in possession of cannabis is not legal. If you are refused entry into a country because you have cannabis in your possession, you alone will be responsible for the consequences, including for payment of your return trip home.”
Now that would be one expensive toke.
Air Canada issued the warning after an incident in late 2019 that saw one of its domestic flights (AC125) diverted to Seattle because of weather issues in Vancouver. Some passengers aboard that 787 Dreamliner were carrying 30 grams of marijuana, the legal limit in Canada, but totally illegal in the United States.
Ever try to get rid of pot at 30,000 feet?
One passenger aboard that flight told CTV News: "I said to my neighbour, ‘I wonder how many passengers on this plane have cannabis or CBD (Cannabidiol) on them and weren't anticipating landing in the United States,’ and her eyes literally popped out of her skull and she said ‘I have CBD oil on me for my bad joints.’”
Christine Langlois, senior advisor of communications and spokesperson for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) told the CBC: “The thing to remember is that you can not cross international borders with it (marijuana), whether you go out of Canada or come in.
“That means that even if a traveller is heading to an American state or another nation where cannabis is legal, you are not allowed to fly across international borders with marijuana,” cautioned Langlois.
The consequences of landing in the U.S. with any amount of marijuana in your possession are very serious — a lifetime ban from the U.S. if convicted.
You can ask the U.S. for an exemption to carry pot on medical grounds but the fees to do that cost hundreds of dollars each time you cross the border.
Wouldn’t it make more sense for domestic travellers to just wait and purchase their pot in the Canadian city they’re flying to?
Why take the chance of seeing your trip go up in smoke?
About the Author
Marc Atchison is a veteran journalist and a seasoned traveller with more than 20 years of travel writing experience. As the former Travel Editor of the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper, and now Editor-in-Chief and Senior Writer for TraveLife magazine (Canada) and travelife.ca, Marc has been to over 100 countries in the world. Japan is one of his favorite destinations and he's been there on numerous occasions.