Canadians made pot legal at the federal level, but that still doesn’t mean RVing with marijuana in Canada is a joy ride. Many important rules apply when you’re carrying cannabis on board.
How to Go RVing with Marijuana in Canada
In 2018 the Canadian Cannabis Act set the national ground rules for legalized production, distribution, sale and use of cannabis products. Today, any adult over 18 can legally buy, possess, grow and share cannabis with other adults. But, Canada’s provincial and territorial governments have the right to override these rules however they see fit.
Don’t assume what’s legal in one place legal in the other. Here’s what you need to know about RVing with marijuana in Canada.
First, you’ve gotta ditch your stash before you get to the international border.
The Canadian Government’s stance on border crossing with cannabis says “It is illegal to bring cannabis into Canada. If you do have cannabis or products containing cannabis with you when you enter Canada, you must declare them to the Canada Border Services Agency. If you do not declare cannabis products when you enter Canada, you can face enforcement action, including arrest and prosecution.”
Whether you’re coming or going between Canada and the U.S., transporting weed in your RV across international borders is completely illegal, even if you are crossing in a state where cannabis is legal, such as Washington.
“This applies to cannabis or any product containing cannabis or even if the intended use is for medical purposes. Those who do can face serious criminal penalties, such as fines or even jail time, even if unintentional,” said immigration attorney Scott Bettridge in an interview with Forbes.com.
Then you’ve gotta know where pot use is legal.
Once you get through customs you’ll find that when you go RVing with marijuana in Canada’s provinces and territories, you’ll encounter a puzzling patchwork of laws that differ from place to place. For example:
- Manitoba doesn’t allow public consumption of cannabis anywhere. You can only use it in “a private residence.”
- Alberta says go ahead and toke up anywhere in public where where smoking tobacco is allowed.
- British Columbia rules state that cannabis use follows the same rules as tobacco smoking. Wherever it’s banned, don’t do it. Wherever it’s cool, go ahead and light up. Just don’t pass the doobie anywhere kids play, like in parks and athletic fields.
The good news for RVers is that many Canadian cannabis laws state that a recreational vehicle is considered a “temporary residence.” So go ahead and take your pot from place to place in your rig. Just don’t drive stoned.
And remember that in most territories you need to transport marijuana in a sealed container away from vehicle occupants. Alberta and Quebec are the exception.
Finally, carefully choose where you decide to camp with cannabis
Once you arrive at a campground, it’s important to understand the cannabis regulations. Authorities treat it much like alcohol and many of the same usage rules apply. For example:
Private campgrounds and resorts can write their own cannabis rules. If they don’t explicitly state them on your check-in materials, it’s your responsibility to ask if you intend to consume marijuana on their property.
The Parks Canada Agency (similar to the U.S. National Parks Service), has a general rule that says campers can enjoy cannabis at campgrounds in all provinces and territories. But you can only consume in your campsite and definitely not in common areas. Avoid lighting up in playgrounds, kitchen shelters, washrooms, trails, or roads.
However, each province, territory, or municipality can enforce their own cannabis laws if they have a Parks Canada campground under their jurisdiction. Some allow cannabis consumption in places like park trails and in the backcountry, some do not.
The Parks Canada “Cannabis use at Parks Canada places” website lists important rules you need to know when visiting a Parks Canada destination.
The Canadian government says it’s an individual’s responsibility to understand cannabis laws wherever one travels. Before you go RVing in Canada with marijuana, take time to understand the Canadian cannabis laws in all provinces and territories and you’ll steer clear of any hassles with the authorities.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.