Marijuana seizures increasing at Canadian borders since legalization, police urge drivers to ‘think twice’

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Customs and border protection officers say the number of drivers trying to sneak marijuana into this country from Canada has skyrocketed, ever since Canada legalized recreational marijuana. If you try it, there’s a very good chance you’ll be caught.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada, but not in New York State and police say if you’re caught crossing the border with any amount, it will cost you.

“If someone goes over there to consume it and they bring back, say 10 grams, which would be a personal use amount o consume later on, that’s still zero tolerance for us,” Customs and Border Protection Public Affairs Liaison Aaron Bowker said. “So minimum you’re facing a 500 dollar fine from CBP.”

Customs and Border Protection officers say this year they’ve seized more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana, that’s five times more than last year.

“It’s a daily occurrence,” Bowker said. “Not necessarily always the larger loads that sometimes more make the news but each one of these cases has to be processed.”

And Friday was no exception. While at the Peace Bridge for not even an hour, Customs and Border Protection found a driver trying to cross back into the U.S. from Canada with marijuana and other drugs
in the car.

“When you’re traveling back into the United States, you’re guaranteed to see a law enforcement officer, which increases your chances of getting caught,” Bowker said.

Bowker said when it comes to drivers hiding drugs in their car, they’ve seen just how creative people can be.

“We’ve seen it vacuumed sealed, we’ve seen it packaged away to try and throw off the scent of a dog. Like in a peanut butter jar,” he said. “We’ve seen it packaged in foosball tables like a shipment. We’ve seen it packaged inside stuffed animals where you find the foam stuffing it’s been replaced with marijuana.”

He said because of that officers know what they’re looking for.

“The officers are really good at their jobs and they’re really good at detecting the passenger environment and what looks to be someone being deceptive,” Bowker said.

If you are found with marijuana in your car, you’ll have to face the consequences, because although recreational marijuana is legal in Canada, in New York state it is not.

“You could be facing state and local prosecution or federal,” Bowker said.

Bowker said his advice to travelers, if you’re going to buy marijuana in Canada, don’t bring it back with you when you cross the border.

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