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Canada Border Agency Seizes Almost 2,000 Pounds of Illegal Cannabis Export

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), in a press release, announced on Aug. 24 that 592 kilograms (1.305 pounds)) of marijuana had been seized during a recent operation.

Using a CBSA detector dog in addition to “a wide range of detection tools and technology,” law enforcement was led to 1,036 vacuum-sealed bags of “suspected cannabis” bound for export on May 26. In addition to the first seizure, another was conducted on June 26 which involved 300 kilograms (661 pounds) contained in 100 bags—netting 892 kilograms (almost 2,000 pounds) of cannabis in total between the two seizures.

“Regardless of the mode of entry (air, marine, land, rail), it is illegal to bring cannabis (and cannabis products) into or out of Canada without a valid Health Canada permit or exemption,” the agency wrote in a press release. “CBSA officers have the authority to examine in-bound shipments as well as goods for export. All personal, commercial, and mail shipments will be subject to inspection. Customs Act and may be examined for prohibited goods, including cannabis and cannabis products. Avoid seizures, fines or arrest: Don’t bring it into Canada. Don’t take it out of Canada.”

Rahul C. Coelho is the CBSA A/Director for Metro Vancouver District in Pacific Region. He explained that exporting can only be legal if you have received proper certification. “Although cannabis has been legalized and regulated in Canada, it remains illegal to import or export cannabis and cannabis products without a valid permit or exemption issued by the Government of Canada,” Coelho said. “These significant seizures demonstrate our commitment to intercepting illegal narcotics—at import and export—and contribute directly to disrupting criminal organization activity.”

According to the Canada Cannabis Act, only licensed parties may import or export cannabis in Canada, and “only for medical or scientific purposes.” All individual shipments require a permit, and permit applications are approved on a case-by-case basis.

According to Prohibition Partners, Canada’s cannabis exports were worth $53 million in 2020. This represents a 229% increase over the 2019 export data. Canada exported approximately 66,000 pounds of dry medical marijuana between 2018 and 2020, along with 35,500 liters of oil (more than 9000 pounds) from overseas.

Numerous other countries have also legalized marijuana for export and import. In May 2020, Israel approved the export of cannabis. It is one the most important countries for cannabis research. “This is a significant step for exporters and the Israeli industry, which will enable both expansion of export opportunities as well as rising employment … in the field,” said former Israel Economy Minister Eli Cohen about the decision.

Colombia also legalized the export of medical cannabis last July. This was specifically for flower. “Colombia starts to play big, and with this decree we are putting ourselves at the forefront in terms of regulatory competitiveness, at least in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Colombian President Ivan Duque. “We are opening the space to do much more in cosmetics … [including] food and beverages and even textiles.” Previously, Colombia approved legislation in 2016 to regulate cannabis production and sales, but exports remained banned until 2021.

Recent data from 2018 to 2020 revealed that cannabis flowers are still Canada’s preferred way of consuming marijuana. “The findings highlight the rapidly evolving nature of the cannabis product market, including notable shifts in the types of cannabis products used by consumers. … Although dried flower continues to dominate the market, it has begun declining with a notable shift towards increasing popularity of processed cannabis products,” researchers wrote about their findings. The most in-demand products during this time were vape oil and cannabis edibles.