With the legalization of recreational cannabis coming soon, Canadians are becoming worried that they will be barred from the US for life because of strict American cannabis laws- and reasonably so, since the number of people who have been barred has skyrocketed this year!
While there are steps that you can take to avoid running into trouble at the border, which you can learn from Part 2 of this series, they are not perfect. No matter what you do, border agents may still ask you about cannabis for any reason.
Regardless of the reason- which could range from zealousness to profiling- these situations are dangerous, since the answer you give could have you barred from the US for life.
There are still great challenges when crossing the border. This is a lesson that Sam Znaimer learned when he tried to travel to the US in July. When he was being questioned, he believed he wouldn’t have any problems, since he had never touched cannabis in his life.
Unfortunately for Znaimer, when he admitted to investing in cannabis companies, his answer was used as grounds to have him barred for life. Today, he has to apply for an expensive waiver each times he wishes to cross our southern border.
Since telling the truth leads to this kind of outcome, it may be tempting to do the opposite and lie. However, this is an even worse idea, since lying to American border agents is considered fraud under US law.
If you are caught lying, you would be instantly barred for life. In the worst case, you could even be detained for your fraudulent statement! Lying is simply never worth the risk- especially since you never know what information the border agent has.
Instead, the best answer is no answer. If asked about cannabis, you should tell the border agent that you wish to use your right to silence.
US border agents may try to intimidate you and make you speak. In the past, Canadians have been threatened with drug tests, lie detectors, and even indefinite detention when they refused to answer.
However, in each case, those threats were empty, since US border agents do not have the power to do those things. At worst, all they can do is tell you to return to Canada- which is far better than being banned for life, especially since you can always try to cross into the US again later.
At the end of the day, the right to silence is your best tool at the border.
With the legalization of recreational cannabis coming up in less than 2 months, it will be more important than ever to use it, along with the other tools listed throughout this series. After legalization, Canadians will be at greater risk than ever before when they cross our southern border, and these tools will be their only means of protecting themselves.