US Entry Waiver

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US Waiver

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Can You Be Denied Entry to USA for Smoking Legal Weed in Canada?

Even though many US states, such as Colorado, Washington, and California, have legalised marijuana, it is still considered illegal in the United States at a federal level. Consequently, any Canadian who admits to US border agents that they have ever used marijuana could be denied entry even if the cannabis was purchased and consumed legally in Canada. Marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance according to US federal law, and the USA border is under federal jurisdiction. As a result, any Canadian who admits to having ever used cannabis (even if they do not have any in their possession) may be refused admittance at the border and even given a lifetime ban from the country. Anyone working in Canada's newly legal cannabis industry, including investors in marijuana-related businesses, are also at risk of being denied entry at the United States border. Even Canadian medical marijuana users may be at risk of a border denial when visiting the United States, and should never attempt to cross the border with their medicine.

Does the US Border Care If I Plan to Smoke "Legal" Marijuana While in USA?

Now that Colorado, Alaska, Washington DC, California, Oregon, Washington state, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Nevada have voted to legalise marijuana, "pot tourists" from across the world have been travelling to the United States to sample various strains of the plant as well as to enjoy the many cannabis-infused baked goods and candies available. Before cannabis was legal in Canada, pot enthusiasts from British Columbia would often travel to cities such as Seattle to get high, but many of them would run into issues while attempting to cross the border into Washington state. When recreational marijuana became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018, the number of Canadians travelling to the US specifically to consume marijuana dropped significantly, but there are still many Canadians who plan to purchase cannabis and cannabis products while visiting the country. Honesty is always the best policy when dealing with US border patrol agents, but Canadians who plan on buying goods from a legal cannabis dispensary while in the United States should always understand that telling a border agent of such plans could cause issues. Marijuana is still illegal in the United States at a federal level, and simply admitting to a border guard that you have tried marijuana before is enough to cause you to be turned away at the border. Any Canadian that discloses plans to purchase or consume pot while in the US risks being denied entry to USA!

The legal marijuana industry in Colorado, California, Nevada, and especially in the border state of Washington loves having Canadian customers and considers them crucial to business success. Even still, it is important that people from Canada interested in purchasing pot from a licensed dispensary in a legal state understand that weed is still a restricted drug in the U.S. at a national level. Take into account before crossing the border that the US Department of Homeland Security has officially said they have not changed their border policies to accommodate state-level plans to legalise marijuana. Telling CBP officers that you are entering the US to get stoned can cause a Canadian to be refused entrance at the border, and being denied entry because you plan to smoke weed while visiting the US can have the same ramifications as being denied at the border for other reasons and can affect your ability to travel to the U.S. in the future.

Crossing the Border with Legal Cannabis

Tourists are not allowed to transport marijuana between Canada and legal US states such as Washington. Even though Cannabis is legal in Canada and is also legal in that state, it is illegal at the US border which is under federal jurisdiction. Consequently, Canadians found to be in possession of marijuana, either on their person or in their vehicle, while crossing the border can be refused entry to the US and banned from the nation. Even if it is small quantity of marijuana for personal use and you have a receipt proving that it was purchased legally from a government-regulated dispensary, you can not bring it with you when flying or driving to the United States.

Canadian Pot Pardons Not Recognized by USA

Now that marijuana has been legalised in Canada, the Liberal Government is offering free pardons to any Canadian with a criminal conviction for simple possession of cannabis. US Border Patrol does not recognize Canadian amnesty, however, and Canadians with a pardoned marijuana offense can still be denied entry at the US border even if the incident involved less than 30 grams of pot and happened a very long time ago. US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) does not recognize Canadian pardons or record suspensions. Consequently, Canadians with a pardoned conviction for possessing pot may still require a USA Waiver in order to successfully cross the border.

Risk for Cannabis Entrepreneurs

Anyone involved in the legal marijuana industry in Canada is also at risk of being refused admittance into USA. There have been many news stories of Canadians who own cannabis-related businesses or work in the cannabis industry being denied entry due to their association with the substance which is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug under US federal law. Remember, the United States border is under federal jurisdiction and just because it is legal in Canada does not mean it will not cause issues when travelling to the USA. Under federal law in the United States, a foreign national who owns a cannabis dispensary can essentially be viewed as a narcotics trafficker, even if the business is fully legal in their own country. Even Canadians who own an auxiliary marijuana business, such as a company that produces extraction tools, may be at risk of being refused entrance when attempting to enter the United States.

In October 2018, US Border Protection issued a statement suggesting that Canadians involved in the legal cannabis industry in their own country will not have trouble crossing the border provided their reason for travel is unrelated to the marijuana business. This is a reversal of their previous stance, as less than a month prior CBP issued a statement which suggested such individuals could have problems entering the United States. According to the CBP's latest announcement, "a Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the US for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the US." Canadians working in the legal marijuana industry can definitely expect increased scrutiny when entering the United States, however, and given the new position of CBP should always have proof that their travel is not related to the industry to help ensure they are not refused admittance.

Have you run into problems at the US border due to your use of, or association with, cannabis? Phone us today for a free consultation!

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