With the state’s legislative session ending on Wednesday, it still remains unclear if recreational marijuana will be legalized in New York. But as of Saturday morning, a cannabis retail shop officially opened its doors just five miles from the Rainbow Bridge into Canada.
Dozens of people came to the grand opening of Choom Cannabis – one of more than 20 recreational marijuana stores that has opened in Ontario since Canada legalized the drug.
Before this point, the closest marijuana retail shop to Western New York was in St. Catharines. But now with a quick drive over the bridge, officials are now expecting to see more Americans.
“I’ve had calls from our American friends asking and inquiring, and I told them yes, you’re able to come over, yes you’re able to shop and consume, but no, you cannot bring it back over the border,” said Niagara Falls, ONT. Mayor Jim Diodati. “So make sure whatever you do stays here in Canada. You can come and visit as often as you’d like, but it’s still not federally allowed in the United States.”
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents tell News 4 they’ve been on alert for marijuana passing between the two states since October when it became legal in Canada. But even with this new store opening so close to New York, it’s just another day for them.
“For us it’s business as usual; the questions are all the same. Most people won’t notice a difference unless there’s something to alert officers that the person was not being completely honest where they were or where they’re coming from that would trigger a referral or a closer look at that person,” said Supervisory CBP Agent Michael Taylor.
If someone is caught bringing marijuana over the border, they could face fines starting at $500 and even be prosecuted at a federal level.