Used it in B.C.? OK. Plan to use it down south? Not ok.
By Pat Grubb
Current U.S. enforcement of federal laws against marijuana was not expected to change when it comes to Canadians crossing the border following Canada’s national legalization of pot on October 17. This was according to Todd Owens, assistant executive commissioner for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) office of field operations. Owens held a telephonic press conference with journalists on October 16.
In fact, CBP policy had already changed as late as October 9. In September, Owens was quoted in a Politico article saying that persons involved in the marijuana industry would not be allowed into the U.S., nor would investors in marijuana companies be considered admissible.
However, in an October 9 update, CBP announced that “…a Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. However, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”
That brought a sigh of relief not only to individual pot users – big money must also be happy. Constellation Brands, the $42 billion wine and spirits company behind Corona, Modelo and Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey, announced in August that it would invest an additional $4 billion in Canada’s Canopy Growth Corporation, the world’s largest marijuana company by market capitalization, raising its minority ownership to 38 percent. Seattle-based private equity firm Privateer Holdings is one of the largest investors in the Canadian medical marijuana sector with holdings in producer Tilray, Marley Natural and Leafly, the world’s most popular cannabis website. Privateer has more than 350 employees and has raised well over $100 million.
Owens had told reporters that he didn’t expect there to be much change at the border as a result of the legalization. Visitors who have used marijuana in the past or are determined to be drug abusers or addicts will still be considered inadmissible to the U.S. However, when asked what time period the “past” referred to, he replied it applied to before the date of Canadian legalization.
He added that officers had wide discretion and would most likely question travelers on their intended plans and activities while in the States. If the officer believed that a visitor would be likely to use marijuana during their visit, the visitor could be deemed inadmissible.