Laws Outside the U.S. are Strict Where Smoking, Vape and Cannabis Products are Concerned
You’ve no doubt heard the story of the WNBA player who was sentenced to nine years of hard labor in a Russian prison for bringing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil into the country. Closer to home, the laws and penalties can be just as formidable.
As a smoke shop vendor or retailer, whether you’re on vacation or going to an industry event, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of traveling out of the country with cannabis, vape, and CBD products, particularly to Canada and Mexico. While both countries have legalized marijuana in some form, there are still strict laws and penalties for possession and transportation of these products.
When it comes to traveling to Mexico with cannabis, vape, and CBD products, it’s important to remember that recreational use of marijuana is still illegal. However, possession of small amounts (up to 5 grams) for personal use has been decriminalized.
“Many times less than 5 grams still causes me big delays. It’s best to have a plug (a friend who is also into cannabis) on the other side unless you enjoy paying the quota,” says Trent Bohl who splits his time between smoke shops in Silver City, New Mexico and Torreon, Coahuila in Northeastern Mexico.
However, possession of large amounts or products with high levels of THC can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. It’s crucial to research the specific laws and regulations of the region you’ll be visiting, and to consult with a lawyer if you’re unsure about any aspect of the laws.
In the summer of 2022, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took a harsh stance against alternative tobacco products. He enacted a ban on the import and sale of all e-cigarettes and vaping devices as well as their use in public places.
Mexico isn’t just concerned with cannabis consumption. In early 2023, the country launched one of the most comprehensive anti-tobacco measures in the world. Smoking is now banned in all public spaces.
According to a report by Reuters, smokers who violate the law are subject to fines between $50 – $300. It was also noted that smokers who refuse to cooperate with the ban could face up to 36 hours in jail. Businesses, such as cantinas and resorts, that allow smoking in their establishments face fines of up to $46,000.
Going the other direction, visitors returning to the States are allowed to take home $800 worth of items per person duty-free in your luggage, once every 30 days (family members can combine their individual $800 exemptions on a joint declaration). The next $1,000 is taxed at a flat 3 percent. After that, you pay the individual item’s duty rate. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, you can also bring duty-free up to 200 cigarettes, and 100 non-Cuban cigars.
When it comes to traveling to Canada with cannabis, vape, and CBD products, it’s important to remember that it is illegal to take cannabis across the Canadian border, whether you’re entering or leaving. The possession, sale and distribution of vape products containing nicotine are also illegal, except for those approved by Health Canada. Possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana can result in a prison sentence of up to five years.
Keep in mind that even if you’re traveling to a country where cannabis, vape, and CBD products are legal, it’s still a good idea to keep them discreet and secure. Also be aware of any potential cultural differences or stigmas related to cannabis and vape use in the country you’re visiting. It’s crucial to be respectful of local customs and laws, and to avoid using these products in public or in places where it may be considered inappropriate.
So, can you get away with it? The truth is, it’s hard to say. Laws and regulations regarding cannabis, vape, and CBD products can change quickly and unexpectedly, and it’s hard to predict how they will be enforced. Customs and border protection agents are just doing their job and enforcing the laws of the country you’re visiting. Be respectful of their authority and follow their instructions.
Here’s what can happen if you’re caught trying to bring cannabis vape or cbd products into Canada or Mexico:
1. Arrest and detention: Customs agents have the authority to arrest and detain individuals who are found to be in possession of illegal substances. This can result in spending time in jail or detention centers while awaiting trial.
2. Fines and penalties: If convicted, you may be subject to hefty fines and penalties. The fines and penalties vary depending on the country and the amount of cannabis products found.
3. Deportation: In some cases, individuals who are found to be in possession of illegal substances may be deported back to their home country. This can result in a permanent ban on entering the country in the future.
4. Criminal record: Being arrested and convicted for possession of cannabis products can result in a criminal record, which can have a negative impact on your employment and travel opportunities in the future.
It’s important to remember that possession and transportation of cannabis products may still be illegal in Canada or Mexico, even if it is legal in some states in the US. Before traveling, it’s always best to research the laws and regulations in the country you’re visiting and to avoid taking any unnecessary risks.