Confidential Project for the Governing Body of an Indigenous Community in Canada

This report discusses the means through which the beneficiary – the governing body of an indigenous community located in Canada – can facilitate the transportation of recreational cannabis products between two Canadian locations within its territory by truck. The beneficiary is developing its Cannabis Law, which will govern cannabis-related matters within its territory. As part of the Cannabis Law, the beneficiary anticipates that the law will allow sale of recreational cannabis on its territory, and it will allow this cannabis to be transported via land vehicle. This report recommends “in-transit” shipping as the most viable way to transport cannabis cross-border via motor vehicle.

There are no solely Canadian roadways that connect the beneficiary’s Canadian territories. Therefore, a truck transporting the cannabis must travel on United States roadways on its way between the two locations. Further, the truck must cross an unpatrolled Canada-US border in order to enter one of the Canadian locations; there is no land route that connects a Canadian border post in to one of the locations.

Travel through the US presents a challenge because the US, unlike Canada, has not federally legalized cannabis and continues to classify cannabis it a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Therefore, cannabis transportation without proper authorization can be illegal. Additionally, both Canada and the US are subject to international obligations that require each country to forbid the import and export of recreational cannabis. Canada has implemented these international obligations into domestic law under its Cannabis Act by exclusively issuing import and export permits for cannabis that has a medical or scientific purpose.

In-transit shipping is the process by which goods travel through a state that lies between the points of origin and destination without being deemed to be “imported” into that connector state. The process involves sealing the cargo prior to entering the transit state to ensure the cargo is not improperly unloaded in that area. The in-transit cannabis would move through the US without legally being classified as an import and export. Instead, it would simply be considered a domestic shipment between two locations in Canada. This circumvents the import and export restrictions against cross-border recreational cannabis transportation.

This report outlines the Canadian and US permissions and licenses needed to facilitate the in-transit shipment of cannabis, including the specific permissions needed to transport cannabis. Additionally, this report outlines how the actual shipping process works – including proper documentation and the in-transit sealing and unsealing process. This report further discusses the need for the cannabis shipment to pass through the unpatrolled Canada-US border to reach the ultimate delivery point. This presents a challenge because an in-transit shipment generally must arrive at a Canadian border patrol outpost to allow for inspection and the formal completion of the in-transit shipping process.

This report identifies two possible cannabis transportation routes where the unsealing by Canada may take place. The first proposed route requires the carrier to attend the closest available border post upon reentry into Canada in order to complete the in-transit process by having the shipment unsealed. However, this route then requires the unsealed truck to then briefly re-enter the US in order to arrive at the beneficiary’s territory located north of the unpatrolled international border area. This report anticipates that the US would likely not be willing to allow unsealed shipment of cannabis within the country for any length of time.

The second proposed route bypasses attending a Canadian border post upon reentry, altogether. The carrier would simply follow the most expedient route through the US, cross the unpatrolled border, and make the delivery to a bonded warehouse within the territory which would hold the cannabis until a Canadian border representative unseals the shipment.

This information will provide the beneficiary with a better understanding of the barriers to land-based cannabis transportation so it can more effectively draft its Cannabis Law and negotiate with relevant Canadian and US regulatory agencies to facilitate recreational cannabis transportation between its Canadian territories.