No Trips for Trippers


A couple months ago, Brian Doherty noted that Canada has begun turning away American visitors with records of minor offenses such as marijuana possession. Now it looks like the U.S. is retaliating and, as usual, taking the anti-drug idiocy up another notch. Over at Alternet, Linda Solomon describes the predicament of Andrew Feldmar, a Canadian psychotherapist who has been prevented from visiting his children, friends, and colleagues in the U.S. because a border agent's Web search turned up a journal article in which Feldmar discussed his experiences with LSD and other psychedelics. In the '60s. In Canada and England.

A Department of Homeland Security official explains that Feldmar was barred from entry not because of what he wrote but because of what he did: "Anyone who is determined to be a drug abuser or user is inadmissible. A crime involving moral turpitude is inadmissible, and one of those areas is a violation of controlled substances." Even if it occurred four decades ago in other countries and never resulted in a criminal charge. Feldmar can seek a waiver, but the process costs several thousand dollars and has to be repeated every year.

I was only kidding when I said blocking Feldmar's visit was the U.S. response to Canada's border policy. But maybe both countries can agree to stop barring harmless people for ridiculous reasons. If Canada adopted the standard applied to Feldmar, turning back anyone who has ever used illegal drugs, half the U.S. population would be prohibited from crossing the border.

[Thanks to Amy Alkon for the tip.]

NEXT: What's Good for the Goose Is Good for the Farmer?

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  1. “Moral turpitude”?! Does calling a Homeland Security guy a “raging asshat” also rise to the level of moral turpitude? I hope not – otherwise, next time I leave the US, I’m not going to be allowed to return.

    Though I’m starting to think that might not be such a bad thing.

  2. I find it… odd… that border agents are googling your name and combing the results for drug references. Are we sure this article wasn’t published on 4/1…?

  3. I hope Canada and the US do decide to bar half of each other’s population from border crossings–the only reason marijuana and other soft drugs remain illegal is because the laws criminalizing their use still receive broad support from people who have violated them with no consequences. As long as that (white, non-lower-class) population is able to sit back and rationalize that drug laws that would put them in jail are “sensibly” only being applied to “dangerous” users, nothing will ever change.

    If law enforcement as 100% effective, liberty-based beliefe systems would be much more than theoretically attractive, for sure

  4. Why would they hire all those plasticine porters if they don’t want stoners travelling?

    – R

  5. Didn’t Big Bill Clinton admit to using marijuana? (Once and didn’t inhale; still a crime at the time).

    Hope he’s not planning on traveling outside the US any time soon.


  6. Nevermind… he’s an American… apples and oranges… my bad.


  7. Bush has admitted to some college drug use, Shouldn’t that bar him from going to Canada?

  8. Moral turpitude, Ms. Honeywell, moral turpitude.

  9. Of course those rules don’t apply to Bush and Clinton, they are politicians and are exempt from following such rules.

  10. I say we reverse the tables. Under the guise of any Homeland Security official, or any person you dislike for that matter, post several “articles” on the web claiming various dubious acts. When border guards etc google their names, have all these “articles” pop up.

    While the whole mess might be eventually cleared up with a little research, it will cause officials enough trouble to possibly make them rethink their policies.

    Be sure to use proxy avoidance software, etc…

  11. The really inane thing here is that depending on what part of the 60’s we’re talking about, LSD and MDMA would have been legal. It would be like closing the border to someone who took aspirin in the 50’s.

  12. Canada has had the policy of not admitting people who have been arrested (not convicted) for anything for a long time.

    It was brought up when Bush’s DWI arrest was revealed in 00. One wag joked that a state visit to Canada was out. At that time I checked Canada Immigration’s website, and indeed any arrest was grounds to deny admission. You could apply for a waiver at the Canadian Embassy.

    How it works in practice is that you will be rejected if you let them know you have been arrested before. If you showed up at a border crossing chances were that you would be waved through as soon as the Customs guy knew where you were born and why you were visiting.*

    I suspect that the whole Canada’s barring stoners came about because a lot of Americans were announcing their cannibis tourism intentions not realizing that Canadian cops have the same sticks up their asses as cops everywhere when it comes to drugs.

    *This has certainly changed now that the US is demanding passports for entry from Canada. I belive Canada has reciprocated.

  13. Of course, it goes without saying that no matter how stupid the policies of another country are we have our own officials who are perfectly up to the task of beating any foreign competition.


    Not only was LSD legal it was considered a promising treatment for mental illness and was widely researched. Many students were guinea pigs for these tests. Some got the real thing some got placebos*.

    Many of the people who used it did so to try to understand it’s effects. Some went on to use it recreationally, some didn’t.

  14. This makes no sense when you consider that there is a defacto decriminalization of pot in most of Canada. We have had a compassion club (medical marijuana) here in Vancouver that has operated openly for years without any police harassment.

  15. This story doesn’t add up. I drive into Canada 6 or 7 times a year, and they never even ask to see my ID. If they did look at my ID, then search my name in some database, and then deny me entry, I would just drive to the next border crossing, where the odds are that they would just waive me through…

  16. Okapi – cool! Where are you crossing?

    I’ve gotten some fairly rude treatment at Trout River (NY-Quebec), and we also got the “passports. purpose” etc questions at Ft. Covington(NY-Qeb) – much more than the usual once over.

    Back in the old days, yeah – a few questions “where didja go in Canada…” and that was it. No ID, no nuthin.


  17. Actually, the Canadian government should start asking the ‘have you ever been arrested’ question, ONLY of congress-critters, police officers, customs officials and state reps/senators.
    Just a taste of sauce for goose…

    From comments from a now retired LEA, you would be surprised how many police/LEO’s have actually been arrested for something.

  18. Last year, I went on a trip to Canada with my fiance and her family. We crossed somewhere in North Dakota.

    On the crossing into Canada we were asked 3 questions:

    1. What’s your purpose for the trip?
    2. Do you have over (certain amount) of cigarettes cartons?
    3. Any criminals in the vehicle? [to which a simple “no” sufficed]

    On the return from Canada, the US crossing guard was working on his automobile. He took a look at us, figured we looked innocent enough, and waived us through before proceeding with his mechanics.

    Hopefully my next trip up there will go just as smooth. Have passport handy just in case tho.

  19. I cross at the “truck crossing” near Blaine, WA. On the way to Canada, they usually ask why I’m going to Canada and I reply either “skiing” or “rock climbing”. They then reply “have a nice day”. That’s it.

    It might make a difference that I’m white, mid-30’s and usually travelling with the wife and two little kids.

    On the way back in to the US, they always just ask if I’m bringing anything back from Canada…

    I’ve never even been asked to show ID.

  20. cool. thanks!

    sounds like the old days at Trout River… hrumph

  21. This makes no sense when you consider that there is a defacto decriminalization of pot in most of Canada.

    Sorry, no, there is not a defacto decriminalization of pot in most of Canada.

    There is a defacto decriminalization of pot in the big cities, viz Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Outside of those locations you might as well be living in Bumfuck, Alabama.

    In my own extended family I can count two Toronto cops. They are way more into the drug war than I am. Just as I do not speak of Universal Health Care with these folks (there are some of these in the USA as well) I do not suggest that marihuana possession should be legalized.

  22. This sets a precedent for keeping out legalization advocates, doesn’t it?

    Not good.

  23. “This sets a precedent for keeping out legalization advocates, doesn’t it?”

    do you think the gubmint is wigged out enough about that to even consider that as part of a larger long-range scheme? i go back and forth on that one.

  24. As a related example, Snoop Dog won’t be going to Australia:

    A quote: “He doesn’t seem the sort of bloke we want in this country.”

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