Canadians should consult an immigration lawyer if they have ever used, bought, sold or invested in a marijuana business or service and want to visit the United States after October 1. When Canada's new cannabis legalization laws go into effect October 17, 2018, "U.S. customs and border agents are bracing for Canada’s legalization of recreational marijuana, saying they will continue to enforce federal law along the northern border," according to Newsweek, and
“Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana all remain illegal under U.S. federal law,” Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials told Detroit’s Local 4 news.
Immigration lawyer Evelyn Ackah explains that even when marijuana is legal in Canada, if a Canadian enters a U.S. state where marijuana use is legal, federal law bans the use, sale and investment in the marijuana industry and the U.S. Canada Border is patrolled by Federal agents:
It can be a catch-22: if a Canadian crossing the U.S. border lies about legally using marijuana in Canada - even for medical reasons - they can be banned from entering the United States for lying to immigration officials.
Non-Americans using a credit card to purchase marijuana and other online financial data is not protected under United States privacy laws and may be available to U.S. immigration officials.
Canadians should never lie about marijuana use at the border crossing, but instead to refuse to answer the question about marijuana use. In that case, you will be denied admission to the United States on that occasion, but will not be banned for life.
Ackah advises Canadians who have used or invested in the cannabis industry. "You may want to consult an immigration lawyer before trying to cross the Canada / U.S. border. Hopefully the border issues surrounding Canadians' legal use of marijuana will be resolved soon. In the meantime, if you do legally use marijuana in Canada and are traveling to the United State for business or as a tourist, I recommend:
When crossing the Canada / U.S. border, make sure you are not carrying any marijuana or cannabis paraphernalia in your pockets or bags.
Put passwords on your electronic devices so your photos, emails and texts cannot be read.
Do not use a credit card to purchase marijuana, as the legal electronic sharing of data between countries could make that information available to the border agents."
If you are permanently banned from entering the United States for your legal Canadian purchase and use of marijuana, you can appeal the decision. Ackah Business Immigration Law provides comprehensive expertise in all areas of Canadian and United States immigration law. Our innovative legal practice combines professional knowledge, personal attention, and supportive advice. With knowledge and expertise, we navigate complex Canada / U.S. cross-border immigration rules and regulations to solve problems and remove obstacles, before you get to the border.
Evelyn Ackah is a U.S. and Canada immigration law expert and founder and managing lawyer at Ackah Business Immigration Law. Business immigration law focuses on helping people move into new opportunities — both personally and professionally. Ackah Immigration Law helps you to navigate the complex maze of rules and regulations involved with Canadian, U.S. and international immigration law with confidence. Headquartered in Calgary and with offices in Vancouver and Toronto, Ackah Business Immigration Law provides legal immigration advice for those looking to move for work, education or personal reasons.
We provide expertise in all areas of immigration law ranging from corporate immigration to personal and family immigration matters. We provide comprehensive immigration services to clients around the world representing corporations, institutions, not for profit organizations and individual clients. As your immigration lawyers and paralegals, we provide you with timely and strategic advice relating to the constantly changing immigration laws and regulations.
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