Weeks before recreational cannabis became legal in Canada, US border officials announced their strict penalties for Canadian pot users travelling to the States. Those who admit to using, buying or even investing in legal cannabis in Canada could be barred for life from the US.
Most Canadians probably assume that, as long as they play their cards right, it's unlikely that they'd be the ones on the receiving end of such a harsh punishment. But, immigration lawyers and cannabis experts warn that a significant spike in these cases is coming.
A Toronto-based immigration lawyer named Henry Chang told Global News, "I think we’re going to start seeing more people getting banned, not because of them smoking marijuana after Oct. 17, but just because they think they have nothing to hide and they blurt out that they smoked marijuana when they were 18. That’s going to happen, because people just don’t understand that it’s still barred."
Just two weeks ago, it was reported that several Canadians were turned away at the Saskatchewan-North Dakota border after admitting to previous pot use.
"It is a fairly serious concern," the mayor of Estevan, Saskatchewan told CBC News. "Even people that might have smoked it 20, 30 years ago, they're being asked, 'Have you ever smoked cannabis?' when they get to the U.S. border. We understand some people have said yes, that they have, and have been turned back."
For the time being, Henry Chang advises Canadians not to give border officials any reason to suspect that you've had anything to do with marijuana in the past. “Don’t dress like a hippie, don’t smell like marijuana, because then the questions get asked.”
If questioned, Chang says that Canadians do have the option to refuse to answer. "You'll get in trouble, they’ll detain you, you’ll get sent back to Canada, but at least you don’t have anything on the record saying you engaged in controlled-substance use” he says.
Source: Global News