Everything cannabis tourists need to know before entering the United States’ northern neighbor by plane, train, automobile, ferry or foot.  



Fifty years ago, young Americans flocked to Canada during the Vietnam War to avoid the draft.

Today, Americans of multiple generations and all political stripes are planning trips to Canada for modern travelers’ ultimate escape: cannabis.

Canada’s Cannabis Act legalizes the botanical drug starting Oct. 17.

Here’s a guide for Americans entering Canada for cannabis by plane, train, automobile, ferry or foot from British Columbia to Newfoundland.

At the Border

PACK ID: Americans must show proof of U.S. citizenship and valid photo ID. U.S. passports, passport cards and NEXUS cards accepted. Birth certificates and certificates of citizenship or naturalization are also accepted.

BE CLEAN: While Canadians are now being barred from entering the United States if they work in the cannabis industry, no such prohibition is in effect for Americans entering Canada. However, drunken or drugged driving, domestic abuse, cyber bullying, solicitation and dozens more misdemeanor and felony offenses can prevent people from entering Canada. Criminally inadmissible Americans may apply to be deemed “rehabilitated.”

FACE CUSTOMS: Answer the Canadian Border Services Agency‘s questions when you enter the nation by land, sea or air. Returning, you’ll face U.S. Customs and Border Protections at all crossings.

What’s Legal?

WHAT’LL BE LEGAL: Pre-packaged whole dried cannabis flowers; milled cannabis flowers; pre-rolls; oils; capsules; and seeds.

WHAT WON’T BE LEGAL: Edibles and infused beverages won’t be sold in retail cannabis stores until some time in 2019. Edibles will be legal only if homemade and not intended for commercial sale. This includes non-alcoholic beer brewed from or spiked with cannabis.

Who’s Legal

BE 19 (OR 18): Canada’s federal minimum age to use cannabis will be 18. Alberta and Quebec will honor that age. However, most provinces have set the minimum cannabis use age at 19, the legal age for alcohol consumption in most of Canada.

Price Details

CANADIAN PRICES: The government will set minimum prices — about $10 per gram according to Canadian finance ministers — to discourage the black market.

CANADIAN TAXES: Canada wants to tax cannabis at $1 per gram or 1/10th of a product’s price, whichever is greater, plus federal and provincial sales taxes.  All of which will be less than American state taxes. For example, Washington’s levy is 37 percent. California taxes can top 40 in some areas.

EXCHANGE RATE: The American dollar is 30 cents stronger than the Canadian dollar. American Money Math: Spend $100 and “save” $30, or get 3 grams “free.”

Weight Details

AMERICAN SPOKEN: While pricing will be set by the gram, Americans who haven’t mastered metric measures can purchase eighth-ounces (3.5 grams), quarter-ounces (7 grams), half-ounces (14 grams) and ounces (28 grams).

Canadian Cannabis Details

CANADIAN STRAINS:  Chemo. Sweet Island Skunk. Gods Bud. Nuken. Girl Scout Cookies in Vancouver, Pink Kush in Kelowana,  OG Kush in Toronto, M39 in Montreal, White Cheese in Halifax. Plus other notable Canadian strains. And of course, BC Bud, the catch-all name for grown-in-British Columbia cannabis.

CANADIAN BRANDS: Legalization laws strictly limit branding and advertising. The government’s warning logo will be the primary graphic on cannabis packaging.  Look hard for these brands: TK TK TK TK. Canadian commercial licensed producers include  Indiva…more TK ,., Good Buds, organic sun-grown craft cannabis from British Columbia’s Gulf Islands …. Choom … OrganiGram … Hydropothecary… Aphria … The Supreme Cannabis Company … Nature’s Nu Standard capsules … cult following Shatter Master .. Toko Co2 vape pens … South Coast, grown on Sunshine Coast … Kootenay Fire, sustainable BC Bud. … Vapes: Trichome, WestCoast (CQ) Smoke Co. … Secret Garden Extracts … Next Level distillate … High Voltage Extracts … Sky Extracts …. Canopy ….

INTERNATIONAL BRANDS: Foreign cannabis producers are not allowed but international brands may entering Canada. Willie’s Reserve will. So will MedMen. And Harborside. Also: Investments by American beer conglomerates Constellation Brands and Molson-Coors won’t materialize until at least next year when edibles and infused beverages like non-alcoholic THC-infused beer will be legal.

Buy in Stores

WHERE TO PURCHASE: Some provinces will allow privately owed stores. it’s not yet clear where  stores will be located. Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, had planned to open up to 150 stores run by its Liquor Control Board but opted instead to sell online only until April. British Columbia is planning for both public and privately owned stores. Newfoundland and Saskatchewan will have only private stores. Stores can sell smoking accessories.

HOW TO PAY: Canadian cannabis stores will be powered by Canadian banks. If your debit card works internationally, it will work in a Canadian cannabis store or the government’s online pot portal.

HOW TO FIND: Canadian cannabis stores face severe advertising and marketing restrictions. TK Leafly and other best sources of information.

Buy Online

ONLINE OPTION: Online cannabis sales will be allowed nationwide via government websites powered by private e-commerce service providers — New York Stock Exchange-listed Shopify in British Columbia and Ontario and Ohio-based OnX in Alberta. Online will be the only way to buy it in Ontario until next spring.

Online Details

PROVINCIAL WEBSITES: Links to government websites TK. eg:  Alberta.

PRODUCT AVAILABILITY: Same as in retail stores.  Expanded context and detail TK.

ORDER PROCEDURES: E-commerce sales powered by private technology companies. Deliveries to physical addresses. Other restrictions? TK.

PRODUCT DELIVERY: Purchases will be mailed from online fulfillment centers and delivered by Canada Post, just as medicinal cannabis has been delivered throughout Canada since 2013.

ORDER ASSURANCE: You’ll be required to show ID to prove your identity and age when your purchase is delivered

PRODUCT DELIVERY: How long will deliveries take? TK.

PRODUCT PACKAGING: Plain, discrete packaging. More detail TK.

Limits Details

PURCHASE LIMITS:  Adults may purchase 30 grams of flowers per transaction. Multiple retail and online purchases can be made per day.

POSSESSION LIMITS:  Adults are allowed to possess 30 grams of flowers while in public.

Consumer Details

WHERE TO CONSUME: With a few exceptions — including smoking and vaping lounges in Vancouver and Toronto, maybe in Niagara Falls and possibly outdoors throughout Banff — public consumption is prohibited nationwide. Consumption is allowed in private residences and hospitality properties. Prohibited in all public places and workplaces and in cars, trucks and boats.

CONSUME ASSURED: All cannabis sold in Canada is subject to testing for cannabinoid content and purity. Health Canada has licensed more than 40 labs.

DON’T DRIVE:  Think Canadians are harsh for banning DUI offenders from entering their country? Provinces are tightening drugged driving offenses with cannabis legalization looming.

Where to Travel  

  • Vancouver, British Columbia. Longtime reputation as Vansterdam — Amsterdam of the West, rife with open sales of seeds and flowers and European-accented cafes where smoking and vaping rule.  Retailing rules are being finalized but there are no restrictions on the number of stores, and some longtime outlaw stores are applying to sell legally. Note: 30 miles from International Boundary crossing at Blaine, Wash.  Note arrival via cruise ship. Note arrival via air.
  • Nelson, British Columbia. The 1960s draft-dodging mountain haven bloomed into Western Canada’s heaven for cannabis cultivation and hippie culture. Note International Boundary crossing via Spokane. Note arrival via air.
  • The Gulf Islands.  Longtime premier BC growing region nestled between eastern Vancouver Island and the western mainland, immediately north of Washington’s San Juan Islands, accessible via international ferry from Anacortes and Port Angeles, Wash. Look for these Gulf Island cultivators at these Gulf Islands retailers.
  • Banff, Alberta. The artsy resort town is so cannabis friendly it’s considering liberal local legislation to allow smoking and vaping in parks, picnic areas, trails, sidewalks and greenspaces that are neither sports fields nor playgrounds. Note arrival via air.
  • Toronto. Canada’s largest city. Home to legendary consumption lounge Hot Box Cafe and newly opened Jodie’s Joint hemp-forward cafe.  Vapor Central. Note border crossing. Note arrival via air. Note Jamaican meat patties aren’t a cannabis strain; they’re Toronto’s signature street food.

Where to BYO

  • Whistler, British Columbia. The Resort Municipality of Whistler has banned commercial cannabis activity except for online sales. Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has banned smoking on its property, including ski, bike and hiking areas, lift lines, restaurants and parking areas.