In the lead-up to legalization this week, one thing Canadians have been concerned about is how the United States Border Patrol would handle the change. There were suggestions that admitting to consuming marijuana legally in Canada could result in a lifetime ban from the U.S. Thankfully, the U.S. Border Patrol has cleared up a few things and it might not actually be as bad as it seemed — as long as you follow the rules.
Speaking at the U.S.-Canada border Wednesday, Director of Field Operations Christopher Perry said that United States Border Officers have not been told to ask more cannabis-related questions than they did before legalization. That means you shouldn’t be coming up against the dreaded “Have you ever used marijuana either legally or illegally?” unless officers suspect that you are under the influence or attempting to bring some into the U.S. (that’s obviously still illegal). They also do not anticipate longer wait times at the border due to more questioning.
Being in the cannabis business (or cannabisiness, if you will) won’t necessarily mean that you are barred from entering the U.S. either. Perry stated that individuals who are involved in the industry will likely only face trouble if they are attempting to cross the border for business purposes.
“A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the United States,” Perry said.
Customs and Border Protection emphasized that honesty is the best policy when it comes to answering questions at the border, even when it comes to illegal use of the drug. If you are suspected of something, officers are likely to find out the truth and it’s always better to be upfront and honest with them from the beginning.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 17, 2018
Ottawa announced Wednesday that they would be issuing pardons to Canadians for simple possession charges under 30 grams. While that’s great for those Canadians, it doesn’t mean the same thing to the American government as it does at home.
“Under inadmissibility laws, we do not recognize foreign pardons,” Buffalo Chief Customs and Border Patrol Officer Aaron Bowker said. “You could still be inadmissible to the United States, but again, I stress: that’s on a case-by-case basis. The officers need to look at what’s in front of them at the time to make that determination.”
Case-by-case seems to be the theme. Officer Perry also said that there may still be circumstances where Canadians are barred entry into the States, but it’s difficult to generalize.
“Marijuana is illegal federally in the United States so the use, sale, production, distribution could render someone inadmissible to the United States based on an assessment of the totality of the facts of the case presented to the officer,” he said.
The Canadian government is reminding Canadians entering the United States that while some individual states have legalized marijuana, the border abides by federal law which still outlaws the substance. It is a crime to move cannabis over the border in any quantity.
It is also important to note that Canadians cannot bring marijuana from other countries over the border into Canada either.
The Government of Canada website reads: “Taking cannabis or any product containing cannabis into Canada is illegal and can result in serious criminal penalties both at home and abroad.This is the case even if you are travelling from places that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis. Transporting cannabis used for medical purposes is also illegal.”
The government has considered installing “amnesty boxes” at the border to allow people to dispose of their marijuana before attempting to cross the border to avoid legal penalties.
— Canada Border Services Agency (@CanBorder) October 17, 2018