The legalization of marijuana in Canada on October 17 heightened the concerns of Canadians who legally use, work in or invest in the Canadian cannabis industry. An active case in the United States demonstrates the impact this has on Canadian citizens who cross the border for work or personal reasons.
Canadian Detained in U.S. Jail on Old Marijuana Conviction
A Canadian citizen and former army captain who moved to the United States in 2014 and married an American "has spent the past 75 days detained in a U.S. jail as a result of a decades-old marijuana conviction for which he was pardoned in Canada," reported The Globe and Mail on October 15. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's zero-tolerance policy has led to stricter enforcement of immigration laws, and as marijuana use, sale and investment is federally illegal in the United States, Canada's new laws make cross-border travelers a potential target of the U.S. border patrol.
How Can Canadians Prepare to Cross the U.S. Border?
Evelyn Ackah, founder and managing lawyer at Ackah Business Immigration Law, attended a forum on cannabis legalization in October, where the following recommendations were made:
- Answer only what is asked, don’t expand or go off on a tangent, be accurate, truthful and to the point.
- It appears that Nexus passes are being more affected than the regular entry since it is a sort of pre-approval process. Some people may want to let their Nexus pass lapse in order to avoid the risk of being banned if their Nexus interview determines inadmissibility based purely on work and business activities in the cannabis industry.
- They suggest removing any images or references to cannabis in one’s online social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook and other networks.
Cross-border business and leisure travelers who legally use, work in or invest in the marijuana industry should anticipate and be prepared for questions at the border. Businesses and individuals should be prepared for questions about their marijuana use and the legal inspection of their hardware and social media by U.S. border agents. Although the Canadian government is actively working with the U.S. government to protect Canadian citizens who travel to the United States, as evidenced by U.S. Custom's recent revision to their policy on Canadians who grow marijuana, Canadian citizens continue to have issues crossing the border and when in the United States.
Contact Ackah Business Immigration Law (403) 452‑9515 to learn more about the impact of the marijuana laws and your cross-border employees.