Canadian Marijuana Users, Workers, Investors Will Face Lifetime Bans from Entering the U.S.

"If you work for the industry, that is grounds for inadmissibility."


Joe Sohm Visions of America/Newscom

Smoking marijuana will be legal in Canada next month, but anyone who uses the drug could face a lifetime ban from entering the United States. So could anyone who works or invests in the country's legal marijuana industry.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will continue to enforce a policy of absolute prohibition when Canadians try to travel to the U.S., the agency told Politico on Thursday. That means treating marijuana users like criminals and those who work in the marijuana industry like drug traffickers, even if they aren't trying to bring any of the stuff into the states. Politico says CBP did not specify any minimum level of investment that could trigger a ban.

"Our officers are not going to be asking everyone whether they have used marijuana, but if other questions lead there—or if there is a smell coming from the car, they might ask," Todd Owen, a CBP official, told Politico. "If you work for the industry, that is grounds for inadmissibility."

What to do? Well, lying to a border agent is considered fraud and is also grounds for a lifetime ban. "But if an agent asks the question, I suppose they could decline to answer," Lorne Waldman, an immigration lawyer, tells Bloomberg.

While CBP's rules might seem straightforward, there's actually quite a bit of vagueness. Scott Bernstein, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, tells The Toronto Star that he's worried how far the ban on entry might extend. "That person who owns a mutual fund and maybe doesn't even know where their money is going, are they going to be covered as well?" he asked.

Anyone subject to a lifetime ban from entering the United States can apply for a waiver, though that costs more than $500. The waivers are only granted at the discretion of CBP.

Cannabis companies are already being publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and it seems like only a matter of time before enforcing prohibition along America's northern border creates serious problems for residents of both countries.

Consider that, after October 17, someone travelling from Canada (where marijuana is legal) to Washington State or Vermont (where marijuana is also legal) could still be stopped at the border, prohibited from entering the United States, and banned from the country for life. Take that scenario another step. What's a resident of a border town like Blaine, Washington, or Derby Line, Vermont, going to do?

NEXT: Pot Is No More Relevant to the Shooting of Philando Castile Than It Is to the Shooting of Botham Jean

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  1. So US citizens that work in the industry where it’s legalized will be barred from re-entry?

    1. There is no banishment, which is considered a human rights violation these days, in the U.S. So you can commit any crime you want; you will always have a right to return to your home country. I’d worry more about the creeping outrage of the Federal government governing what you are allowed to do in foreign countries (that does not involve espionage, etc.)

    2. Probably. Druggies aren’t real human beings anyway, so who cares about them? We should block anyone from Colorado from returning.

      1. Why not just build around Colorado. No one I care about lives there.

        1. You don’t care about BUCS, you monster?

    3. There’s some holes in this piece: right of return is a generally accepted component of citizenship/passport holder. This policy had to be vetted with DOJ input somehow, and just how useless is our present AG? Sessions has got to go. I can understand dealing with attempted smuggling under present law, but investing? What this will do is make sure mutual funds with US exposure can’t hold marijuana investments in a portfolio, but the well heeled that setup a shell company in a third country and then invest in Canada to get ahead of the curve and make a small mint as yet another experiment in prohibition bites the dust [and probably in the very near future]. They just need to convert to other investments at a point of convenience when they think they are ready to repatriate some of their cash. Soros has probably setup shop already – Cayman Islands? Bahamas? Who knows…

  2. I was hoping this administration would be more sane about marijuana . They’ve been pretty reasonable so far compared to the last one. -sigh-

    My hopes were to high. (yes pun intended)

    1. Did you still have high hopes after Sessions was picked? Really?

    2. My guess will be like the last admin one 2 steps forward 1 step back on a path of turds.

    3. They’ve been pretty reasonable so far compared to the last one.


  3. “That person who owns a mutual fund and maybe doesn’t even know where their money is going, are they going to be covered as well?” he asked.

    Why not? I mean the ultimate goal is to prevent anyone from entering the US under any circumstance.

  4. I do not see anything particularly weird about not being able to carry drugs across the international border. Be nice if you could, but that kind of liberty is a loooong way away.

    I am not surprised that Federal law, written when it was, contains provisions specifically against drug trafficking as an act in and of itself, rather than as a serious crime against the laws of a jurisdiction. This was (and continues to be) a high-priority international issue; and I don’t imagine that there’d have been a prohibition saying, oh, if someone is a drug trafficker under a regime that tolerates it it’s all cool. I’ve been shocked that the media haven’t been doing the public service of reminding Americans to think twice about entering our own marijuana business in any capacity lest it affect their ability to travel internationally.

    What I am surprised about is that the government doesn’t have a lot more leeway in deciding to allow users with no criminal record in. How have musicians who openly use drugs managed to tour in the U.S.? Surely there’s some discretion being exercised. Even the toughest countries–perhaps especially them–make enormous distinctions between users and traffickers.

  5. I can’t believe that a majority in either house of Congress would support this nonsense. Someone needs to introduce a bill clarifying that work or investment in the marijuana industry, where it is legal, does not constitute being an “illicit trafficker” in a controlled substance, that use where it is legal is not automatically abuse, and that therefore neither should make someone “inadmissible” for life, or at all. I expect even Trump would sign such a bill.

  6. Fade me fam

  7. There are all sorts of things that are illegal in the US, but legal in other countries.

    This is wacky pants.

    1. Sorry, did not see this before posting.

      It’s also true in reverse. For example, many Muslim countries prohibit alcohol: but they make an exception for visitors who are not Muslim. And we’re talking about some of the most unreasonable countries in the world! Do the US authorities really want to be worse than that? Sheesh!

  8. This is extremely dumb, even if it wasn’t already legal, or soon to be, in half the states.

    It’s also not exactly unusual for something to be illegal in some countries and not in others. Generally, it doesn’t lead to problems.

  9. How about Americans who are invested in Canadian MJ companies?

    A few are on the fucking NYSE.

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