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Cannabis-carrying border-crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

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OTTAWA — Travellers caught sneaking small amounts of marijuana into Canada could soon be forced to pay fines.

Although stiff criminal penalties will remain options on the books, the federal border agency is developing administrative sanctions to give it more flexibility to deal with people who arrive at the border with cannabis in the era of legal recreational use.

Since Oct. 17, adults in Canada have been allowed to possess and share up to 30 grams of cannabis, but bringing the drug into the country continues to be illegal, carrying a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.

If you are carrying cannabis upon entering Canada, it must be declared to the border agency. Otherwise, you may face arrest and prosecution, the Canada Border Services Agency says.

Agency officials underscored the seriousness for new Border Security Minister Bill Blair in briefing materials on implementation of the new cannabis law.

“The unauthorized cross-border movement of cannabis remains a serious criminal offence, subject to enforcement up to and including criminal investigation and prosecution,” say the notes, released under the Access to Information Act.

Border officials can also seize marijuana and any vehicle used to bring the drug into Canada.

However, the border agency also appears to recognize that some recreational pot users might absent-mindedly leave a few joints in a jacket pocket or simply be unaware the cross-border restrictions remain in place.   

The planned new penalties will provide an “additional tool” for officers who encounter travellers carrying cannabis, Nicholas Dorion, a border agency spokesman, said in an emailed response to questions.

Details of the new fines — including the amounts to be levied — are still being worked out. However, the internal notes say the penalties are slated to be in place some time next year, and indicate travellers hit with fines would have the right to challenge the penalties.  

The border agency already levies administrative monetary penalties for various Customs Act infractions, and the proposed new sanctions would build on that regime.

In preparation for legal cannabis, the agency posted signs at many border crossings to remind people of the prohibition against bringing even small amounts of pot into Canada. Officials have also been asking visitors and returning Canadians whether they have any cannabis with them.

The border agency received approximately $40 million over five years to help enforce the new cannabis law.

The money is intended to bolster front-line capacity, develop the public-education campaigns and help track the effects of the new legislation.

Some of the money is also going to beef up laboratory services needed to test suspected cannabis stashes intercepted at the border. Key activities for 2018-19 include developing methods for testing, identifying equipment needs and devising monitoring and reporting tools, the notes say.

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press


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Staying active during COVID

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Staying active during COVID

During this unprecedented time, exercise becomes even more important to help with anxiety and stress. Let’s use exercise and physical activity to help manage any overwhelming negative emotions. We can continue to be active, despite of the pandemic with a few easy changes in our lives. Here’s Jonah, a family nurse and health basics coach from the Red Deer Primary Care Network.

Red Deer Primary Care Network (RDPCN) is a partnership between Family Doctors and Alberta Health Services. Health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, nurses and pharmacists work in clinics alongside family doctors.

In addition, programs and groups are offered at the RDPCN central location. This improves access to care, health promotion, chronic disease management and coordination of care.  RDPCN is proud of the patient care offered, the effective programs it has designed and the work it does with partners in health care and the community.

Read more stories from the Red Deer Primary Care Network.

Inspired to be healthy

 

 

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Inspired to be healthy

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Inspired to be Healthy

I have had high blood pressure for a number of years along with fatty liver disease, a bad back, excess weight and have ankles that swell and hurt upon standing for a length of time or during travel. I had been trying to lose weight for some time through eating a bit better and some exercise when I could. However, I wasn’t as committed as I could be, and I needed a push to make progress. When I went to my doctor and discussed my health, she suggested I attend Health Basics.

I loved the program! It inspired me to take my health more seriously and showed me great results for doing that. The coaches were not judgmental at all and really made you feel good about yourself. I learned lots and have implemented lots that I learned. Over the 8-week program, I lost 4 pounds and 3.5 inches off my waist. My blood pressure has come down and stayed down. I am to the point where my medications can be lowered.

My back was sensitive and when I did too much, it would hurt which kept me from engaging in too much exercise. Now I find with increased exercise, I have strengthened my core and have very few back pains. For the longest time when I would stand for shopping or travel on a plane, my ankles and legs would swell and cause me a lot of pain for a few weeks. That is pretty well gone now, likely due to improved circulation. I do a half an hour exercise class online every day. I have started an exercise group once a week with 6 friends, so we keep each other motivated. I have shared my success story with many who also want to take Health Basics. As a result of taking this program I am all enthused and fired up for life and I really want to be healthy. It feels great!

Learn more about the Primary Care Network.

Dealing with Distress 

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july, 2020

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