Canada cannabis entrepreneurs 'could face United States lifetime ban'

Jermaine Castillo
September 17, 2018

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has received the spotlight as of recent as a top official states any individuals who work or invest in the recreationally legal cannabis industry, will be treated as though they are illegal drug traffickers when trying to gain entry into the U.S. The massive irony behind this stems from the legal standing of cannabis in more than 30 U.S. states with nine of those having recreationally legal marijuana as well.

As cannabis in the US continues to be normalized by the growing amount of domestic legal industries, it seems as though moves like these will continue to be in opposition to what the majority of the USA wants, and clearly what Canada would like to see. Noncitizens seeking entry can be found inadmissible for committing or admitting to either a controlled substances offense a "crime of moral turpitude", regardless of whether they were convicted, according to the act. "If you lie about it, that's fraud and misrepresentation, which carries a lifetime ban".

Marijuana is illegal under USA law, and the federal Immigration and Nationality Act allows customs officials to refuse entry to anyone who "is or has been an illicit trafficker in any controlled substance", including cannabis, a Schedule 1 narcotic categorized alongside heroin under the Controlled Substances Act.

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In a piece titled, "U.S. Border Policy on Pot Is About to Get Even Stupider", Splinter's Sophie Weiner points out that upcoming "midterms could change all of this".

"Of course there's always going to be a concern, but the reality is, I can only tell the truth", he said. This is likely to cause a lot of problems for Canadians crossing the border.

In his interview with Politico, Owen added that Canadians should not expect cannabis-related questions as a matter of routine while crossing the border. She agreed they can be lawfully turned away at the border and banned for life.

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Overzealous border agents could encourage even more Canadians to stay home, at a time when President Donald Trump is targeting the country in trade negotiations. This makes me wonder: was he ever in actual contact with U.S. Border Patrol officials during the legalization process?

"It's basically black and white-if you admit to a US border officer at a USA port of entry that you've smoked marijuana in the past, whether it's in Canada or the USA, you will be barred entry for life to the United States", said Washington-state lawyer Len Saunders.

Although you may not be denied entry simply for having a job that's legal in Canada, marijuana executives who work with US companies may be seen as being engaged in criminal activity, Chang said.

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