Starting Wednesday morning, it is legal for Canadian citizens to buy recreational marijuana after a vote from Canada's Parliament over the summer. The rollout couldn't look more different from what Ohio has planned for its medical marijuana program, which is expected to launch in the next few weeks or months.
Adults are allowed to possess up two 30 grams of recreational marijuana but there won't be any long lines outside dispensaries, or concern of one store's supply running out, because at first, it's only available through the mail.
The products Canadians can buy right away are limited to fresh or dried cannabis, oils, and seeds to be grown at home. Edible products are not legal yet.
Meanwhile, Ohio residents are waiting for many of the steps in the state's medical marijuana chain to get final approval before medicines will be on dispensary shelves. Even once product get's to consumers, the Ohio Department of Commerce tells News 5 they expect dispensaries to sell out quickly and potentially even close down until there is more product to sell. Canada seems to have avoided that problem by making its first recreational products available through the mail exclusively.
Ohio's medical marijuana rollout
"It all starts here," said Nick Cline, Grow Ohio's Cultivation Manager.
Grow Ohio is one of the state's cultivation facilities, responsible for growing the state's supply of medical marijuana. Grow Ohio planted their first marijuana plants in the middle of September, days after completing their building in Zanesville, Ohio.
Cline's plants are only a few inches tall, but Ohio still hasn't given final approval for any licenses for processors, that will make marijuana plants into Medicare, labs, that will test the products, or dispensaries, that sell products to approved patients.
"You have to be patient," said Grow Ohio Director of Sales Operations Josh Febus about waiting for processors, labs, and dispensaries to get licensed. "You have to show some tactical patience because folks aren't running at the same game speed that you are."
Grow Ohio has a limited processing license, allowing the company to sell some parts fo the marijuana plant directly to dispensaries. Since processors still aren't licensed, the Department of Commerce tells News 5 the first medical products in Ohio will likely come from cultivators with that limited processing license.
Increased attention along the U.S.-Canadian border
Recreational marijuana might be legal north of the border, but it's still a terrible idea to try to bring it back to the United States.
Custom's and Border Patrol provided this statement to News 5:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforces the laws of the United States and U.S. laws will not change following Canada’s legalization of marijuana. Requirements for international travelers wishing to enter the United States are governed by and conducted in accordance with U.S. Federal Law, which supersedes state laws. Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. Federal Law. Consequently, crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry in violation of this law may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension.
CBP officers are thoroughly trained on admissibility factors and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which broadly governs the admissibility of travelers into the United States. 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.
Generally, any arriving alien who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict, or who is convicted of, admits having committed, or admits committing, acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of (or an attempt or conspiracy to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance, is inadmissible to the United States.
A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. however, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.
CBP officers are the nation’s first line of defense in preventing the illegal importation of narcotics, including marijuana. U.S. federal law prohibits the importation of marijuana and CBP officers will continue to enforce that law.
While federal law prohibits possession of marijuana in any form, the Department of Justice has decided not to prosecute companies or individuals who have marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational use.
The difference is that at the U.S.-Canadian border, the federal agents are in charge.
News 5 is expecting more information later today when Customs and Border Patrol holds a press conference in Buffalo on Wednesday.