In our previous blog post, we discussed the serious implications of cannabis affiliation at the U.S. Border. With the very recent legalization of cannabis, this topic has also made headlines.
Many Canadians are concerned that they will be banned for life from the U.S. if they admit to smoking cannabis, presently, or in years past. Canadians are also worried about admitting their ties to cannabis producers or retailers, whether these ties are in the form of one’s employment or one’s investments (or maybe even both).
Cannabis use is not federally legal in the U.S., which means Canadians are right to be concerned. Canadians should never take cannabis across the border, as this could result in very serious consequences. Border officers have full discretion, and they allow entry into the U.S. based on the circumstances of each traveller. Should you be in possession of cannabis at the U.S. Border – even unintentionally – or should you admit to any association with the drug, officers may choose to ban you for 5 years, or indefinitely, depending on the severity of the situation and the amount of cannabis at issue. Importantly, a determination of inadmissibility is not easy to overcome. Canadians who do find themselves banned can apply for a temporary waiver to allow entry, but the process can take up to a year, and the waiver must be renewed every so often.
On October 10, 2018, the U.S. Government released a statement, clarifying that Canadians who are employed in a legal cannabis industry are generally allowed to enter the US for non-work purposes (i.e. reasons unrelated to the cannabis industry).
If you are granted entry into the U.S., you must know that you cannot bring any cannabis back into Canada from the U.S., just as you cannot bring any Canadian cannabis into the states. This is a steadfast rule: it even applies when you purchased the cannabis in a state which the drug has been legalized. If you “accidentally” have cannabis in your car upon entering Canada, declare it to Border authorities. It will be seized but that is preferred to being charged for attempting to smuggle.
It is important that Canadians consider and evaluate the risks in even attempting to cross the U.S. Border, as a result of their connections to the cannabis industry. Transportation within Canada can be done a lot more freely, due to the recent legalization, though there are still some restrictions (transportation of cannabis within Canada is limited to 30g).
For more information about how the recent legalization of cannabis could affect your chances of crossing the U.S. Border and how Devry Smith Frank LLP’s Immigration lawyers can assist with your immigration law matter, please contact one of our immigration lawyers.