The provincial island of Campobello seems like the last suspecting place for any problem to ever arise. Nestled in glistening watersheds of the eastern Atlantic coastlines of North America, the Canadian island is situated quite closely along the United States border.
Many of the 900 residents frequently travel to the States to secure food and other essentials in order to sustain their lives on Campobello. While transnational border towns are not unusual, Campobello is grappling with a unique issue that continues to define the daily lives of its residents: the mail.
Due to the island’s proximity to the States, the closest mainland from which any parcel can be sent is Maine. In recent years, US Border Agents have started to search more and more packages; their efforts are identified by large green packaging tape that reads: “EXAMINED BY U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION”. Not only is this a huge hassle for anyone living on the island; it also stonewalls the process of delivering medicinal botanicals such as cannabis.
Cannabis was legalized in Canada in the fall of 2018 and in Maine in 2016. However, because the U.S. has not federally legalized cannabis, the substance is prohibited from moving across country borders. This technicality severely endangers the lives of residents that depend on the medicinal benefits of marijuana.
For example, if a patient with chronic pain orders their cannabis from Canada and it is seized in Maine, they will be subjected to dire international consequences: multitudes of legal troubles, including the possibility of being banned from the United States.
This could spell disaster as we know it. The closest mainland to Campobello is the United States! For any resident to be deprived of access to basic life necessities as punishment for simply needing their medicine is a penalty far more damning than what either the United States or Canada would ever condemn.
As one islander who described the mail debacle put it, “Campobello is our very own Alcatraz”. Deprived of Canadian infrastructure while surveilled by American foreign protections, it is only a matter of time before Campobello and its inhabitants are trapped in the paradoxes of U.S. federal cannabis policy.
The mail situation on Campobello points to a few conclusions. Cannabis must be legalized on the federal level before residents are caught in the crossfire of dangerously liminal international bureaucracies. The Canadian government and the mayor of Campobello have come up with different ways that they could get around this predicament such altering the transportation of parcels so that it is carried out exclusively in Canada.
Currently, there hasn’t been another way that has been mutually agreed upon. We look forward to the day that a decision will be made to afford these islanders the same rights as everyone else living in mainland U.S. and Canada. For now, all we can do is hope that Campobello is not forgotten.
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