Border official: Canadians entering U.S. risk lifetime ban for marijuana use

Canadian pot sector workers could face big troubles at the U.S. borders says analyst

Canadian pot sector workers could face big troubles at the U.S. borders says analyst

Canadians who work in the marijuana industry - and those who invest in the booming pot sector - will face significant risks when crossing the USA border even after the drug becomes legal in Canada next month, according to detailed comments by a senior official overseeing U.S border operations.

"Canadians are going to let their guard down and think what's the problem", says Todd Owen, executive assistant director for the Office of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.

Consider that, after October 17, someone travelling from Canada (where marijuana is legal) to Washington State or Vermont (where marijuana is also legal) could still be stopped at the border, prohibited from entering the United States, and banned from the country for life.

"Our officers are not going to be asking everyone whether they have used marijuana, but if other questions lead there - or if there is a smell coming from the auto, they might ask", Owen told the publication. "If you lie about it, that's fraud and misrepresentation, which carries a lifetime ban".

Canadians who say they invest in marijuana companies would also be unable to enter the country as the USA doesn't "recognize that as a legal business", Owen said.

A report by Politico, states that as Canada prepares for legalization on October 17, and while some USA states have eased their pot laws, the U.S. continues to maintain the prohibition which applies at the border.

According to Politico, whether or not the traveller enters the USA, a record will be kept by the border agency and that traveller will not be allowed to return to the US.

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However, Owen, who oversees U.S border operations, said the traveler would still be able to apply for a waiver from the lifetime ban, which can takes months to be processed and costs $585. The waivers are only granted at the discretion of CBP.

He added that rather than lie at the border it is better to not respond to the questions.

"It's basically black and white-if you admit to a USA border officer at a US port of entry that you've smoked marijuana in the past, whether it's in Canada or the USA, you will be barred entry for life to the United States", said Washington-state lawyer Len Saunders.

Because of that, U.S. Immigration Attorney Len Saunders says people working in Canada's pot industry could face challenges.

Owen also said Canadians who tell border agents they work in the marijuana industry risk not being permitted to enter the country. Likewise, investors in pot companies are considered inadmissible.

"It's going to happen even more, and especially now that they're going after business travelers, it's going to be the Wild West at the border".

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday Canada is working with US officials try to make sure travel between the two countries is not disrupted.

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