Major Policy Reversal: U.S. Immigration Authorities Will Not Ban Canadian Marijuana Workers

On October 17th, 2018, Canada’s 95-year-long federal prohibition on recreational marijuana will officially come to an end. At that point, the individual provinces will be in charge of regulating the sale of recreational marijuana. Surprising to some, Canada’s new laws have major implications for travel and immigration to the United States.

In September, a spokesperson from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told Fox News that those who engage in the soon-to-be-legal Canadian marijuana business may be banned from entering the United States.

In a major reversal, the U.S. government has issued clarification that this will not be the case. According to reporting from Canada Immigration Newsletter, employees of Canada’s legal marijuana industry will generally be ‘admissible’. Below, our immigration lawyer in Los Angeless provide a brief overview of the new guidance from (CBP).

Three Things Canadians Need to Know About Legal Marijuana and Travel to the United States

  • Cannabis Industry Employees and Canadians Who Buy Recreational Marijuana Will Generally Be Admissible to the United States

Under the original guidance, it was suggested that the United States may attempt to ban any person who worked in Canada’s legal marijuana industry and any person who legally purchased recreational marijuana in the country. To say that type of enforcement plan would be unworkable is a massive understatement. In its updated guidance, CBP has quietly walked back and withdrawn its prior statements. Those travelling for personal reasons will generally be admitted into the United States, regardless of their relationship to Canada’s marijuana industry.

  • Marijuana Industry Employees and Investors May Face Increased Scrutiny; Unlikely to Be Admitted for Business Travel

While personal travel is acceptable, marijuana-related business travel remains prohibited. Employees and investors in Canada’s recreational marijuana industry could face some additional questions at the American border. If they indicate that they are travelling for business purposes, it is unlikely that they will be permitted to enter the United States.

  • Drug ‘Abusers’ and ‘Addicts’ May Be Denied Entry

In accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), U.S. border patrol agents have the authority to deny entry to drug abusers and drug addicts. This has been true and it remains true. Will there be cases in which overly aggressive CBP agents attempt to improperly deny entry to Canadians who use legal marijuana based on this statute? It is always a possibility. If that occurs, legal action should be taken to hold the CBP accountable.

To read the latest guidance from the U.S. immigration authorities in its entirety, please refer to the CBP Statement on Canada’s Legalization of Marijuana and Crossing the Border

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