The U.S. government is not concerned that Canada's pending legalization of marijuana will cause problems at the border, a top official says.
Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly recently visited counterparts up north and, in a related media interview, was asked whether the end of prohibition in Canada would "require a different approach" on the part of U.S. border officials.
"Probably not," he responded.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has pledged to introduce legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis this spring.
The issue is so low on the American government's list of concerns that it didn't even come up as a topic of conversation with Canadian officials, Kelly said during the interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News Network's Power & Politics.
Under international drug control treaties, nations are prohibited from legalizing marijuana or other scheduled drugs except for medical and scientific uses. A United Nations enforcement body recently issued a report warning Canada over its obligations, also scolding the U.S. about the growing number of its states that are ending prohibition.
Questions have been raised about whether Canada will withdraw from the treaties before it enacts legalization on a nationwide basis or if it will instead try to characterize its pending legalization as a medical or scientific measure. During a recent Canadian Senate debate, the country's minister of foreign affairs said the government "will be discussing it directly with our partners, including the United States."
The only public recommendation that Kelly is willing to make on the matter so far is urging individual Canadian citizens to "just check those pockets one more time" to make sure they aren't carrying any marijuana before visiting the U.S.
In the interview he added that he believes cannabis "does have its uses in the medical world."
Those comments are in line with recent remarks by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who said, "I think the president understands that [medical marijuana] can be a vital part of treatment, especially for terminally ill patients and people facing certain kinds of medical things."
Spicer also said, "The president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs including medical marijuana can bring to them."
Medical cannabis is already legal on a nationwide basis in Canada.