Many Canadians are planning vacations in the upcoming months to escape the cold, dark days at home. But cannabis users should be wary, because their vacation may come to an abrupt end at the border. Canadian cannabis buyers are being warned by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner not to use credit cards when they’re purchasing legal cannabis. If you use plastic (credit or debit cards) to purchase, your personal information is saved and your purchase history is much easier to track.
Why The Concern?
But cannabis is legal, so why does it matter? It turns out using plastic instead of cash to buy cannabis could get you in some trouble at the US border. Any frequent traveller is already aware that Canadians are facing a lot more scrutiny at international borders. Countries like the United States are taking extra time screening Canadians to ensure no cannabis crosses the border. The United States has even gone as far as to bar some travellers for life after they admitted to using cannabis or being involved in the legal cannabis industry.
By using credit or debit cards to make a cannabis purchase, your purchase history including your name and other information are stored in a database that can be hacked. This information could be used to deny you entry.
And as Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien wrote, “Cannabis is illegal in most jurisdictions outside of Canada. The personal information of cannabis users is therefore very sensitive. Some countries may deny entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis, even lawfully.”
A Problem in Some Provinces
The solution being recommended to Canadians is to use cash for all cannabis purchases. After all, cash can’t be tracked. In most provinces this is easy; however, the option of using cash only isn’t a solution for many Canadians.
For example, cannabis users in Ontario can only purchase cannabis legally from the Ontario Cannabis Store – an online sales platform. If you’re buying online you can only use credit or debit cards. And Canada Post has admitted there was a privacy breach of about 4,500 Ontario Cannabis Store consumers. Fortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any blocked travellers as a result of this.
Other Potential Issues
Another concern is for people who rely on medical cannabis prescriptions. The only way for them to receive their prescription is through online stores. Once again, this leaves them without the legal option of paying with cash.
It’s recommended that all cannabis buyers are extra cautious in stores right now. You shouldn’t provide any additional information about yourself. Don’t provide retailers with any information other than what they need to verify you’re of legal age. It’s very important to guard your privacy in instances like this.
If you’re a cannabis user who’s planning on travelling, make sure to check the rules of your destination and be aware they’ll be asking you about your cannabis history. Check out these blog posts if you want more information on travelling with cannabis or cannabis laws in other countries.