Document Type

Border Policy Brief

Publication Date

Winter 2018


cannabis legalization, policy, governance, border security


The policies regulating the use and sale of cannabis have historically been constructed differently in the United States and Canada, yet both countries had deemed recreational use to be illegal. Beginning in 2012, however, individual states in the U.S. began to legalize recreational cannabis, including Washington, Oregon, and most recently, California. In 2017, the Government of Canada passed similar legislation. If Canada’s legislation goes into effect in mid-2018, the West Coast of North America will become the only contiguous region where recreational consumption and sale of cannabis are permitted across multiple jurisdictions (see Map 1, next page). However, because cannabis remains federally illegal in the U.S., the Canada - U.S. border presents both legal and social challenges that are continually emerging as the recreational cannabis industry expands.

This Border Policy Brief examines the development of the recreational cannabis industry in the ‘Cascadia’ region of western British Columbia and Washington State, highlighting the strong regional nature of its legalization, as well as the implications of legalization for the Canada-U.S. border.




1- Winter

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Border crossing--Government policy--United States; Cannabis--Law and legislation--United States; Cannabis--Law and legislation--Washington (State); Cannabis--Law and legislation--Canada; Drug legalization--Washington (State); Drug legalization--Canada

Geographic Coverage

Washington (State)--Boundaries--British Columbia; British Columbia--Boundaries--Washington (State); Canadian-American Border Region; United States; Canada


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