US border officers find pot, not furniture, in Canadian truck

Boxes of marijuana found in a Canadian truck by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the US-Canada border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers discovered more than a half-ton of marijuana during an inspection of a Canadian truck at the U.S. border at the Blue Water Bridge in Michigan on Monday. The pot — manifested as office furniture — was destined for locations in Michigan, CBP said.

The drugs were packed into cardboard boxes loaded onto wooden pallets. Officials did not estimate the value of the marijuana, but estimates from recent border seizures and open-source drug price indexes suggest it likely exceeded $1 million.

The seizure was the latest at the U.S.-Canada border. CBP officials have reported a surge in marijuana seizures at ports of entry in New York and Michigan from commercial trucks originating in Canada since the border closed for nonessential travel in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even during a pandemic, traffickers continue to attempt to exploit our borders and will stop at nothing to try and introduce illicit drugs into our communities,” Michael Fox, who oversees operations at the Port Huron Area Port of Entry, said in a statement.

The last major marijuana seizure in the U.S.-Canada border happened last week at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo. The bridge has been the site of most of the recent major pot seizures, including a $20 million bust in June.

CBP did not say what happened to the truck driver. Truckers found hauling drugs across the border can be released if investigators are satisfied they did not know about the illicit load. Others can face federal criminal charges that carry prison terms.

Cross-border marijuana hauling continues even to state where it’s legal

Notably, the marijuana from the latest seizure was headed to a U.S. state that has legalized recreational marijuana. Recreational cannabis became legal in Michigan in December 2019, a little more than a year after it was legalized in Canada.

Marijuana remains illegal under U.S. federal law. Exporting recreational cannabis from Canada also is against the law.

Despite the widespread availability of licensed retailers and producers, a large black market for cheaper recreational marijuana continues to exist in Michigan and Canada, including the province of Ontario.

A manager of a licensed recreational marijuana store in Detroit recently told FreightWaves that despite competition from the black market, business remains better than ever during the pandemic.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Nate Tabak.

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