Breaking News
More () »

Marijuana seizures up 140 percent at the border

The legalization of marijuana in Canada is having a domino effect at the border.

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Since recreational marijuana became legal in Canada, border agents have been busy.

The legalization of marijuana in Canada is having a domino effect at the border. More people are trying to not only bring the drug into the U.S., but also mail it across the border.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection -- in October of last year, they seized roughly 2 pounds, in 40 separate incidents. Over the last month, those numbers were up to 85 pounds in more than 100 seizures.

That includes every northern border crossing, not just Western New York.

REPORTER: Is there more of a drain on resources now? Are you guys looking for it more often?

"No I think ease of access has led to an increase a little bit we're seeing a lot more personal use, people with smaller quantities we've seen an increase in the commercial environment with people trying to mail it in," said, Aaron Bowker, the CBP chief officer.

A couple weeks ago, agents seized about 10 pounds of marijuana from Canada at the Peace Bridge. Just days later -- 17 pounds more. They've also arrested a New York man accused of having marijuana in his car and marijuana in gummy worms.

"We have not seen an increase in say driver impaired that we have not seen an increase in, it's just more of the possession of it," Bowker said.

REPORTER: I wonder whether there is concern for every person who you do catch there's someone who's getting away with it?

"It's always a concern," Bowker said.

REPORTER: Is this the new normal for you guys?

"I hope not, the last thing I want to do and we want to do as an agency is arrest people and seize things and fine people because they're going to use it recreationally over there. My message to them and our message to them, if you go over there to use it recreationally leave it there," Bowker said.

Fines for marijuana possession are a minimum of $500 and can go a lot higher depending on the quantity and whether someone has a record. Customs officials tell 2 On Your Side that there has been confusion at the border about whether medical marijuana can be brought over, although it's legal in New York state, it is not legal at the border, which operates under federal law, so medical marijuana cannot be brought over the border.

There has also been a rise in seizures of other drugs.

October 2017:

Arrests: 27

Narcotic Seizures: 52

(Top narcotics seized: Marijuana – 2.44 pounds, Cocaine - .044 pounds, Other (i.e. prescription) - .066 pounds

Counterfeit Goods Seizures: 117

October 2018:

Arrests: 62

Narcotic Seizures: 218

(Top narcotics seized: Marijuana – 85.03 pounds, Meth – 5.20 pounds, Steroids – 7.60 pounds, Other (i.e. prescription) – 34.85 pounds

Counterfeit Goods Seizures: 185

Before You Leave, Check This Out