On October 17, 2018, Canada became the second country, after Uruguay, to legalize recreational cannabis. In response to this development, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the country’s primary border control agency, issued the following statement:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforces the laws of the United States and U.S. laws will not change following Canada’s legalization of marijuana. Requirements for international travelers wishing to enter the United States are governed by and conducted in accordance with U.S. Federal Law, which supersedes state laws. Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. Federal Law. Consequently, crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry in violation of this law may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension.
What are the implications of this announcement?
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.
Practically speaking, if a person working in the recreational cannabis industry in Canada comes to the United States for tourism, for example, and for reasons not related to their recreational cannabis work, they should expect to be admitted into the country. However, if CBP determines that the person’s intent in entering the United States is related to the marijuana industry, then they may encounter issues entering the country.
CBP officers are thoroughly trained on admissibility factors and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which broadly governs the admissibility of travelers into the United States. Determinations about admissibility and whether any regulatory or criminal enforcement is appropriate are made by a CBP officer based on the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time.
Generally, any arriving alien who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict, or who is convicted of, admits having committed, or admits committing, acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of (or an attempt or conspiracy to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance, is inadmissible to the United States.
If you are affected by this development and have concerns about admissibility into the United States, please contact us. We are here to help. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr for up-to-date immigration news.
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