A Canadian official on Thursday called on the United States to abandon its border policy regarding the use of cannabis by those looking to travel to Canada’s neighbor to the south.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, in an interview on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp’s show “Power & Politics,” blasted the current policy banning self-professed cannabis users from entering the United States as “ludicrous.”
“We obviously need to intensify our discussions with our border authorities in the United States, including the Department of Homeland Security,” Goodale said, noting that four U.S. states — including Washington and Alaska, which border Canada — have passed laws allowing for the recreational use of cannabis. “This does seem to be a ludicrous situation.”
Goodale’s comments were in reaction to a Canadian resident, Matthew Harvey, of British Columbia, being stopped by border security while attempting to cross into Washington state. Harvey — who is legally permitted to use medical cannabis — admitted to having used cannabis recreationally during questioning. He was denied entry into the U.S. and was banned from ever entering in the future.
“They said that I was inadmissible because I admitted to smoking marijuana after the age of 18 and before I’d received my medical marijuana license,” Harvey said.
The news comes amid something of a renaissance in Canada on the issue of cannabis. The country announced in April at the UN General Assembly Special Session that it would seek to legalize recreational cannabis by the spring of 2017. Last month, the country released a number of new regulations regarding
“Our approach to drugs must be comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate,” said Jane Philpott, Canada’s minister of health. “It must respect human rights while promoting shared responsibility. And it must have a firm scientific foundation. In Canada, we will apply those principles with regard to marijuana.”
Last month, the country also released new, clarified regulations regarding medical cannabis’ cultivation, sale, and use.
Not all cannabis-related news in Canada has been positive for the industry. Two of the country’s top banks in recent days indicated that they were backing off of providing accounts to cannabis businesses, with a representative for Scotiabank saying that the bank seeks to “manage risks soundly while making prudent business decisions.”
Canadian law enforcement has also been active on the anti-cannabis front, with a series of high-profile raids conducted in Toronto against allegedly unlicensed cannabis distributors.
Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Goodale, followed up on Friday by saying that while the two countries’ governments have had a broad discussion on Canada’s intent to legalize recreational cannabis, the border issue has not been addressed thus far.
“In terms of the practices of border guards in question, those only came to widespread attention recently and will be discussed in future bilateral discussions,” Bardsley said.
Individuals barred from entering the United States due to past drug use may petition to have the ban temporarily lifted, though the process to do so is costly and time-consuming.