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‘Playing with fire’: What to know if you’re getting on a flight with cannabis

Flying within Canada with cannabis isn’t against the rules — but it may not be the smartest decision, according to an immigration lawyer.

The issue arose this week when a domestic Air Canada flight from Toronto to Vancouver was diverted to Seattle. Some passengers on the flight reportedly raised concerns about whether they would be penalized for carrying the plant, even though it’s legal in Canada.

Les Saunders, a U.S.-based immigration lawyer, says that travellers might want to leave their cannabis products at home, even if travelling within Canada.

“It’s playing with fire,” he said. “Canadians have to be careful when they’re on flights back and forth across Canada. I wouldn’t carry any of that stuff if I was a Canadian travelling by airplane.”

Saunders says the consequence of U.S. customs finding your cannabis could be a ban for life from the country, even if you weren’t meant to enter the U.S. or are in a state that has legalized cannabis, such as Washington state, because cannabis is still a controlled substance federally.

“It’s a lifetime bomber,” he said.

Saunders says he sees similar cases all the time when Canadians accidentally enter the U.S. by car.

In those cases, they get what’s called a “zero-tolerance fine,” which is about $500, according to Saunders, and the border agent will deem the person inadmissible because they were found in possession of a controlled substance.

It is currently legal for adults to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis in Canada, but illegal to cross the border with any cannabis products.

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Cannabis products are already becoming more ubiquitous as different demographics give them a try — Saunders says seniors are starting to use it to treat arthritis — and will become more varied once edibles and lotions hit Canadian store shelves in December.

One option for air travellers who find themselves unexpectedly across the border with cannabis is to get rid of the stash on the plane, according to Saunders, but he’s not sure airlines can allow people to do that.

Ultimately, Saunders says it’s the personal responsibility of passengers to know what could happen, but the Canadian government and the airlines have a moral obligation, if not a legal one, to warn passengers of the risks of carrying cannabis products.

Currently, there are no warnings about cannabis products in the terminal for domestic flights, according to Saunders, but there are for international flights.

However, Air Canada’s website does warn customers about the possible consequences of carrying cannabis on domestic flights if the flight is diverted.

“If you are refused entry into a country because you have cannabis in your possession, you alone will be responsible for the consequences, including for payment of your return trip home,” the website reads.

In the recent example of the Air Canada flight on Nov. 3, passengers had to clear customs due to a mechanical issue found on the plane and had the option to stay in a hotel, but the airline says there were no reported issues clearing customs.

“I wouldn’t want to be one of those people,” Saunders said.

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Chemical and Physical Defense of Weed Seeds in Relation to Soil Seedbank Persistence

Effective weed seedbank management requires mechanistic understanding of ecological determinants of seed persistence in the soil seedbank. Chemical and physical defense of common lambsquarters, field pennycress, giant foxtail, kochia, velvetleaf, and yellow foxtail seeds were quantified in relation to short- and long-term seedbank persistence. Seed content of ortho -dihydroxyphenols ( o -DHP), a class of putative seed defense compounds, varied more than threefold between the least protected species (common lambsquarters, 9.2 µg g seed −1 ) and the most protected species (kochia, 34.1 µg g seed −1 ). Seed o -DHP was inversely related ( r = −0.77, P < 0.001) to seed half-life in the soil and to short-term seed persistence in burial assays ( r = −0.82, P < 0.05). The relative importance of chemical seed protection in comparison to physical seed protection, as represented by the ratio of seed o -DHP concentration to seed coat thickness, decreased linearly with increasing short-term seed persistence ( r = −0.96, P < 0.01) and nonlinearly with increasing long-term seed persistence in the soil seedbank (y = 0.16 + 0.21/(0.0432 + x), R 2 = 0.99, P < 0.001). Mechanical damage to the seed coat, via piercing, slicing, or grinding treatments, increased short-term mortality during burial for all six species. Mortality of pierced seeds was negatively associated ( r = −0.35, P < 0.05) with seed phenol concentration and positively associated with seed half-life ( r = 0.42, P < 0.01) and seed coat thickness ( r = 0.36, P < 0.05). Seed phenolics, as a class, supported the results for o -DHPs. Overall, these findings suggest a potential weakness, with respect to seedbank management, in the way weed seed defenses are constructed. Weed species with transient seedbanks appear to invest more in chemical defense than those species with highly persistent seedbanks. As a result, seeds in the latter category are relatively more dependent upon physical seed protection for persistence in the soil seedbank, and more vulnerable to management tactics that reduce the physical integrity of the weed seed coat.

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