Canadian Weed Buyers May Be Outed by Their Credit Cards
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
When recreational marijuana officially becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17, users will no longer have to worry about breaking the law. They may have something new to fear, however: Their own credit card data.
Some privacy experts fear that US law enforcement authorities will use credit card transaction data from legal pot buys to lock down the border. Global News reported in September 2018 that US law allows border officials to ban Canadians from entering the country for life if they’ve purchased marijuana, even if it’s done so legally. What’s more, credit card transaction data of non-US citizens that is stored in the US can be subject to law enforcement scrutiny — without the need of a search warrant.
“Armed with credit card data that clearly showed a cannabis purchase, a US border guard could quickly put a Canadian in an impossible position — admit to marijuana use and be banned for that, or deny it and be banned for lying,” according to Global News.
Mastercard told Yahoo Canada Finance it’s committed to cardholder privacy, and explained “that data collected from transactions is limited to card numbers, locations, dates, the amount spent and merchant names.”
Some of those merchants are hoping to avoid suspicion by coding the transactions to look more innocuous.
“Nova Scotia, where cannabis will be sold directly in liquor stores, solved the problem elegantly by entering purchases as NSLC (Nova Scotia Liquor Commission), which will make cannabis buying effectively invisible in the data,” the Global News reported.
As to how strict US enforcement may be, Politico writes that US Customs and Border Protection agency officials “are not planning to go out of their way to interrogate every Canadian traveler about marijuana use.”
“‘Our officers are not going to be asking everyone whether they have used marijuana, but if other questions lead there — or if there is a smell coming from the car, they might ask,'” Todd Owen, executive assistant commissioner for the Office of Field Operations, told Politico.
The new law permits purchasers to carry one ounce of weed in public. In order to legally buy and use weed in Canada, federal law says you must be 18 years old, but some provinces have bumped their regulation to 19.
You can’t fly with marijuana going in or out of the US, even if it’s medically prescribed, partially infused or in a state where it’s legal, since TSA follows the federal guidelines of the US. You also cannot legally cross a land border with marijuana — even if you’re traveling to a state that also has legalized recreational use.
Featured image by Isaac Gonzalez / EyeEm / Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.