US Threatening To Bar Entry To Canadians Who Use Or Invest In Marijuana As Legalization Date Approaches

U.S. Customs and Border Protection official said this week that Canadians who smoke marijuana legally, or work or invest in the industry, will be barred from the U.S just as marijuana legalization in Canada approaches.Scott Bernstein, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, said he is troubled by the lack of clarity.

WASHINGTON—Canadians will be barred from entering the United States for smoking marijuana legally, for working in Canada’s legal marijuana industry and for investing in legal Canadian marijuana companies, a senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection official says.

Todd Owen, who spoke to the U.S. website Politico, said the U.S. does not plan to change its border policies to account for Canada’s marijuana legalization, which takes effect on Oct. 17, reported the Toronto Star newspaper.

Canadian perspective: If you like smoking the occasional spliff, keep it under your hat when talking to U.S. border agents; they regard this as an illegal act, even though marijuana will soon be legal in Canada and is already in some U.S. states.

 “We don’t recognize that as a legal business,” said Owen, executive assistant commissioner for the office of field operations.

Owen’s comments corroborated anecdotal reports that have accumulated over the course of the year. Canadians with links to the nascent legal industry, including venture capitalist Sam Znaimer and the chief executive of a B.C. agricultural machinery company, have already been given lifetime entry bans.

Owen said border officers will not begin asking every Canadian about their marijuana use.

He said, however, that officers might ask if “other questions lead there,” or “if there is a smell coming from the car,” or if a dog detects marijuana residue.

Owen did not specify how much equity a Canadian has to hold in a cannabis company to be denied entry.

Scott Bernstein, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, said he is troubled by the lack of clarity.

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