Oh Canada! Please accept our apologies for what’s going on at the border right now. If you haven’t heard the news, Bloomberg and BBC have both recently published stories clarifying the U.S. customs border policy, announcing that Canadian Cannabis entrepreneurs will not be allowed entry into the States for any reason, specifying that our cannabis counterparts to the north would be treated like outlaws and banned for life!
A senior US border official told news site Politico that Canadians in the burgeoning sector could be deemed inadmissible to the US.
There have been concerns within Canada’s growing cannabis industry for months that they may face trouble crossing the border.
In July, a Vancouver businessman was questioned at the border and banned for life because he had investments in US based Cannabis companies.
Immigration attorneys have related similar stories from clients in the industry.
There have also been concerns that more Canadians will find themselves denied entry into the US if they admit to using marijuana, or face increased searches or interrogation by US officials.
Todd Owen, executive assistant commissioner for the Office of Field Operations, told Politico that border officials will question Canadians about their use of cannabis if they have cause to do so.
US border officials can deny entry to people who admit to consuming cannabis or admit they plan to purchase or consume cannabis in the US, even in a state where it is legal. This is in stark contrast to Canadian customs officials who on my last two visits to Vancouver and Niagara Falls respectively, briefly questioned why I was visiting? When I explained both times that I was en route to a cannabis conference, ICBC and Grow Up conference respectively, they proceeded to politely inquire if I had any cannabis in the car. I made it clear both times that you don’t bring sand to the beach, and each time the agents laughed and confirmed the notion that there would be plenty of cannabis available to me on the streets.
Back in the US however, the CBP said that “working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in US states where it is deemed legal or Canada may affect a foreign national’s admissibility to the United States”.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government officials have maintained that despite the change in law, there is no indication marijuana legalisation will shift the US approach in how it deals with Canadians crossing the boundary, and confirmed that involvement in the industry could result in denied entry.
Jordan Sinclair, with Canopy Growth, a major medical marijuana supplier in Canada, told the BBC that while their employees have yet to face difficulties at the US-Canada border, the industry as a whole is seeking more clarity as to how cases will be consistently handled by border officials. He also confirmed the broader notion that many Canadians may be investors in cannabis stocks through major pension funds and mutual funds without being aware of it.
“There’s absolutely no way you can say if you’ve invested in the industry you’re not going to be allowed into the United States,” Sinclair said. It should be noted that people who have received bans still have the possibility of applying for a waiver from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Despite all the border nonsense, I’d like to end on a quasi positive note by formally congratulating our allies to the north for their sea to sea leap into legal recreational cannabis. Of course, it seems to be immediately going the way of over regulation and corporate monopolies but at least the snowball of accessibility has started downhill and once it’s in motion… look out! And according to our very own congressman here in Oregon, we can expect a bill introducing federal legalization in the States by 2019 – so all this border bullshit will be a non-issue, and once again we will be able to watch hockey together in harmony. Go Canucks!