Article by Gord Howard, The St. Catharines Standard
Marijuana seizures at the U.S. border have increased dramatically since cannabis was legalized for sale in Canada.
Since October when online sales started, the number of seizures has more than doubled at border points entering New York state over the same period last year.
At the same time, the amount confiscated is more than five times higher than last year.
“We’re seeing a little bit of everything,” said Aaron Bowker, a program manager in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Buffalo field office.
“We’re seeing it for personal use, which would be like enough to make up a couple of joints. We’re seeing a lot of edibles, people trying to bring seeds back.
“And we are seeing larger amounts, both in people’s possession and amounts being mailed in where it could be one or two pounds at a time.
From October 2017 to May 2018 – when cannabis was still illegal in Canada – officers made 319 seizures and confiscated about 62 kilograms of marijuana at 16 state border crossings and airports in Rochester, Syracuse, Binghampton and Albany.
By comparison, between October 2018 when sales were legalized and May 2019, border officers made 717 seizures and took in 346 kilograms.
Many have been small amounts discovered in vehicles crossing at places like the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls or the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie.
Other incidents have been a little more eye-catching, though.
On April 9, border patrol agents spotted a helicopter hovering suspiciously low over a parking lot at Beaver Island State Park, on Grand Island.
They searched the area and near a public hiking trail found four large duffel bags with approximately 50 kilograms of marijuana with a street value of about US$150,000.
Back in March, at Ogdensburg, N.Y. – about four hours northeast of Buffalo, across the border from Brockville – officers confiscated 15 kg of marijuana from a vehicle. Four days earlier, they found 26 kg in another vehicle.