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British Columbia Washington State Governor foresees ease of border regulations governing cannabis after midterms

Part of cannabis laws and regulations

Washington State’s Governor says he expects a shift in the balance of power in the U.S. capital after the midterm elections, and that will mean Canadians crossing the border from B.C. to his state will not have to worry as much if they want to bring legal marijuana with them.

But for now, Jay Inslee, a Democrat who has been touted as a prospective competitor for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, urged travellers not to bring cannabis across the border to avoid “unnecessary difficulty.”

“I believe this problem will get resolved over time. The rate of time it takes is largely dependent on the election results in the next three weeks of our federal government and in 2020,” Mr. Inslee said at a news conference after talks with B.C. Premier John Horgan.

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“I would anticipate there are going to be significant changes in federal policy in this realm, relatively rapidly, and when that happens, this issue ought to be able to be resolved in one way or another.”

British Columbia Premier John Horgan, right, and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee sign a memorandum of understanding following a bilateral meeting at the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

He did not elaborate. Midterm elections in November in the United States will test whether the Republican Party can keep control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Washington State legalized cannabis in 2012, and the end to the prohibition of the substance in B.C. will come next week under Canadian federal law, but individuals crossing the border with pot may face sanctions for doing so.

“That seems odd,” Mr. Horgan told the news conference, held in conjunction with a conference on regional issues in Vancouver.

Mr. Horgan said he will raise the issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mr. Inslee will deal with the U.S. government, which the Premier described as the “main obstacle” on the issue at this point. Mr. Inslee did not specifically respond to that point.

The Canadian government has warned that taking cannabis or a product containing cannabis across Canada’s international borders will still be illegal after Oct. 17 and can result in criminal penalties.

“That will be the case even if you are travelling to places that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis,” a Government of Canada website covering the legal reforms says.

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“Although the possession of cannabis is legal in some U.S. states, it remains illegal under U.S. federal laws in any form and quantity, making it illegal to bring across the Canada-U.S. border.”

Asked if he had any advice for Canada on legalizing cannabis, Mr. Inslee said it was largely a success in Washington State because critics' fears on such issues as crime, significant use among youth and adverse health effects were not realized.

He said it is vital to have strong regulation of the industry, with a cautious approach to establishing outlets for sales. “We picked numbers we thought we could handle in a regulatory system and that has proven to be effective,” the Governor told reporters.

He also called for regulation of edibles “so consumers know what they are getting,” as well as the assessment of issues around use by children. “We’ve been fairly successful on that, but we’re continuing to refine the situation,” he said.

Mr. Horgan said British Columbia has been working on these issues.

“It has been a challenge,” the Premier said, adding the province tried to regulate the number of outlets, but dispensaries already exist, largely in urban centres. He said it will be necessary to relicense such operations. “That’s going to take some time.”

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