Every day, 400 thousand Canadians cross our shared border with the US for a variety of reasons, including visiting family, shopping, or even pursuing a career. However, with the legalization of recreational cannabis being only a few months away, everything could change for these travellers.
These Canadians could easily find themselves at odds with the US’s legal system- while cannabis may become legal here in Canada, and is even legal in several states, it still remains illegal at the federal level.
This means that Canadians violating American laws will face serious consequences. At worst, you can even be banned from the US for life, and be forced to apply for waivers that cost hundreds of dollars each time you want to cross the border.
This is the reality for many Canadians like Jessica Goldstein, who was barred from the US for life just for admitting that she had consumed cannabis once when a border guard asked her about her previous usage.
Before the ban, she crossed into the US weekly to buy gas and groceries. After the ban, she had to completely change her lifestyle because of what she had thought was an innocent question.
With legalization quickly upcoming, you could easily find yourself in a situation like Goldstein’s as you cross the border- especially since the range of US cannabis offences go far beyond the obvious cases of trafficking and possession.
For example, simply admitting to having consumed cannabis is enough to have you barred for life.
If you decide to work or do business with a legal Canadian cannabis company, you could be barred from the US and detained for association with drug trafficking. In fact, even being related to someone who was barred for this reason could be enough to have you banned, since you would be considered a beneficiary of drug trafficking.
Even your online activities could have you banned, since American border officers could use your social media posts or online credit card purchases as evidence that you consumed cannabis.
This is a serious problem, and very little is being done to ensure that Canadians are being informed of what they should do as they cross the border. This is simply not good enough, and I will be using this blog to help prepare you for legalization on October 17th.
Please look forward to next week’s blog, where I will be outlining what you should do to keep yourself safe from a lifetime ban as you cross our southern border with the US!