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Canadian pot users could get flagged at U.S. border

16 September 2018

A top official of the U.S. Customs Border Protection confirmed earlier this week that anyone working or investing in Canada's cannabis industry will be treated as if they are an illegal drug trafficker.

"It's basically black and white-if you admit to a USA border officer at a US 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. The U.S. government views foreigners working in the marijuana industry the same way they would someone working for an illegal drug cartel or as a dealer, regardless of their home nation's laws.

"Canadians are going to let their guard down and think what's the problem", says Todd Owen, executive assistant director for the Office of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.

As well, marijuana residue, which can linger for weeks inside a auto, could be detected by inspection dogs and lead to further questioning.

If someone attempting to cross the border into the US admits to past use of illegal drugs, he or she would be deemed inadmissible to enter.

Not every traveller will be asked whether they use marijuana, but Owen also outlined several signs of pot use that officials will not ignore.

And if asked about past drug use, travellers are advised not to lie. According to the Politico article, USA border officials allow people admitting to past illegal drug use a chance to "voluntary withdraw" from the border or face what's called "expedited removal". USA officials also warn that any form of participation in the sector could likewise cause someone to be turned away, signaling potential problems for investors. "If you lie about it, that's fraud and misrepresentation, which carries a lifetime ban".

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The rub is that it's illegal to have smoked the drug in Canada before October 17, and it's illegal to lie to any border agent who asks about it.

And now, Canadians who work in the marijuana industry will not be permitted to enter the US.

"Facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in U.S. states where it is deemed legal or Canada may affect an individual's admissibility to the U.S.", Owen continued.

"We don't recognize that as a legal business", the official said, adding that marijuana investors from Israel have already been turned away.

Employment lawyer Howard Levitt says workers in Canada's cannabis sector who don't want to run the risk of being banned permanently from entering the United States should consider finding a new job.

"But there is no question that we are working with USA officials; they have legalized marijuana in a number of their states, and we're trying to make sure that travel between our two countries (is) not disrupted".

Canadian pot users could get flagged at U.S. border