Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday September 15, 2018
Canadians who smoke marijuana legally, or work or invest in the industry, will be barred from the U.S.: Customs and Border Protection official
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.
“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.
Thousands of Canadians have shares in cannabis companies, which are publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
“They’re investing in a completely legal industry in Canada, but it happens to be the cannabis industry …. That person who owns a mutual fund and maybe doesn’t even know where their money is going, are they going to be covered as well?” Bernstein said.
Bernstein, who also expressed concern about U.S. profiling of people stereotyped as likely marijuana users, said the Canadian government should negotiate with the U.S. at least to secure entry for workers and investors.
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that he does not think he has the right to press the U.S. on its admission policy. (Toronto Star)