What you need to know about pot on planes

Victoria airport educates travellers about flying with marijuana

Law enforcement officers were at Victoria International Airport today, reminding passengers it was better to be safe than sorry when flying with marijuana.

Cpl. Chris Manseau with Sidney/North Saanich RCMP said it is illegal to carry cannabis internationally, and rules change from province to province, “so you should check their regulations to make sure you’re doing the proper thing.”

RELATED: B.C. residents are second-highest consumers of pot, says StatsCan

“Know what’s in your bag before you get to the airport,” said Manseau.

Rod Hunchak, director of business development and community relations for the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA), said the table was meant to educate travellers on new cannabis legislation and reduce confusion. Since cannabis will be legal across Canada, there are fewer issues with domestic travel so long as you are under the personal limit of your destination province, but it is illegal to carry it to another country. The biggest concern is being caught with cannabis by the customs and security personnel of another country, said Hunchak.

RELATED: B.C. ‘will be ready’ for marijuana legalization

“We have direct flights from Victoria to several US destinations, so we wanted to make that information available to passengers,” said Hunchak.

A travel advisory from the federal government says even after legalization, crossing the international border, in either direction, with any amount of cannabis is illegal. That applies even if the U.S. state you came from has legalized cannabis

Mike Servais of BC Commissionaires said if a domestic flight is rerouted to an international destination for any reason (mechanical or otherwise), passengers may be liable if they have cannabis on their person.

On a local level, the CRD is treating cannabis smoking the same as tobacco. Don Brown, chief bylaw officer for the CRD, said people must be 9 metres away from a doorway or window and cannot smoke in any public place, including parks. Brown said after the Oct. 17 legalization date, bylaw officers will be more inclined to educate as opposed to issue tickets as the issue is new, but there will soon be warning signs up at the airport and elsewhere about the bylaw. Brown said if people are “very non-compliant,” people can be charged under the B.C. Offence Act “which has very stiff penalties.”

With legalization looming, people may be inclined to try cannabis for the first time, so Manseau urged them to take precautions. “Have someone watching over you and don’t overdo it is my suggestion.”


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