Can the CBSA confiscate my NEXUS

Card if they smell cannabis in my car?

Written By: Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

Date: November 4, 2019

The answer is “possibly”.  It is possible that the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) will confiscate your NEXUS membership if the Primary CBSA Officer or a Secondary CBSA Officer smells cannabis in your vehicle.  Even though cannabis can be sold legally in Canada and in many U.S. states, it is not legal to import cannabis into Canada unless you are a licensed producer (and they do not import cannabis in their cars). Even if you have a legal prescription for cannabis, you cannot import it into Canada.

If you roll down your window and a CBSA officer smells cannabis, you will likely be sent to the Secondary Inspection Area.  Sometimes the CBSA roves the lines of cars with drug-sniffing dogs and if they signal at your car, you will be sent to the Secondary Inspection Area.

Just because there is a smell does not mean that cannabis is actually in the vehicle. Sometimes the smell of cannabis is in the vehicle because a joint was smoked in the vehicle (by a driver, a passenger or the passenger’s kids when they borrowed the car last night).  Sometimes the smell of cannabis is on a person’s clothing because they wore the clothing to a party recently and cannabis was available at the party.  The smell on the clothing becomes aromatic in the vehicle.

It is important to remember that smells can linger, and care should be taken when crossing the border into Canada.  Be careful what you wear. Businesspeople should ask their children to not smoke cannabis in the vehicle.

If the CBSA searches your vehicle and finds cannabis or seeds, CBD oil, CBD lotions or topicals, other drugs/narcotics, drug paraphernalia or even a container that contains trace amounts of narcotics (e.g., a film cannister), you may have your NEXUS Card confiscated (and you could be detained, handcuffed, put in a holding cell or arrested).

If you are going to cross the border into Canada, clean your vehicle. The CBSA takes the position that you should know everything that is in your vehicle.  This includes seeds and anything that might be under the seat.  The CBSA also takes the position that you should know everything that is contained within imported goods.  This means you should look at ingredient lists and not import goods with CBD in any form.

If you get stopped and your vehicle tests positive for cannabis or any other prohibited narcotics, the CBSA will likely confiscate your NEXUS membership card.  We had one client whose NEXUS card was seized based upon a CBSA Officer saying that he smelled cannabis (the traveler said that he did not smell anything).

If you have had your NEXUS card confiscated on the basis that the CBSA smelled cannabis or located trace amounts in your vehicle, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or at if you would like to file an appeal.

*LexSage Professional Corporation is approved by the Law Society of Upper Canada