Banned From U.S.
Canadians admitting to smoking marijuana are being barred from entering the United States. If you’re asked whether or not you’ve ever smoked pot at the US border, it may be in your best interests to say no. Even if you said you tried marijuana once in high school, you might be banned from ever entering the United States again.
Canadians Banned From U.S. For Cannabis
In 2014, Matthew Harvey was driving from Vancouver to Seattle for a concert when a customs officer saw a pot magazine in his vehicle. After making this observation, the customs officer began to ask Matthew about his pot past.
“Of course I’d smoked marijuana, Canada didn’t even have a program back then. I smoked marijuana recreationally. I guess I should have lied because now I am inadmissible apparently,” Matthew told CBC Canada.
“The said that I was inadmissible because I admitted to smoking marijuana after the age of 18 before I’d received my medical marijuana license,” he added.
He was 37 years old when they asked him this question. He was then pulled over for questioning and detained for six hours total. They asked him about his marijuana use. Since he was a legal medical marijuana user in Canada going to a state where marijuana was recreationally legal, he didn’t feel the need to lie.
Now, if he ever wants to enter the U.S. again, he will have to apply for advanced permission to enter the U.S. as a non-immigrant. This is a travel waiver that will cost $585 USD ($750 Cdn) every time it needs to be renewed. These waivers are granted on a discretionary basis, which means they can last one year or even five years depending on the decision of the approval officer.
Another Canadian who was banned from the U.S. for their honesty is Vancouver music writer Alan Ranta. He was crossing from British Columbia into Washington where marijuana is recreationally legal for a music festival. He wasn’t aware that admitting to such a harmless act could cost him his access to the U.S. for life.
“We had nothing on us, but they did find a small purse that said ‘weed money’ on it,” Ranta told VICE. “Ironically it never had weed or money in it.”
After finding nothing during their intense search, Ranta believes customs officers didn’t like the look of their “colorful camping gear.” He was then handcuffed and put into a small interrogation room with a bench and toilet. The guard began questioning him on his weed habits.
“I thought, Trudeau has said it’s going to be legal in a year, and the state I’m going to has had it legal for three years-it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.”
Unfortunately, Cannabis is still federally illegal and on national borders, you’re dealing with federal laws. So, Matthew and Alan both admitted to violating Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Experts claim that admission is treated the same as a conviction.
The Final Hit
Neither of these two will be able to return to the U.S. without paying the fee and going through the waiver process. Matthew had hopes of taking his three-year-old daughter to Disneyland, but now it’s going to cost him extra, and he might not even receive approval. Honesty is usually the best policy, but our advice to any pot smoking Canadians crossing the border? Lie.