US Relaxes Border Policy for Canadians Working in Legal Cannabis Industry

US Relaxes Border Policy for Canadians Working in Legal Cannabis Industry

The United States government has been a confused, almost schizophrenic policy toward cannabis. On October 9, the US Customs and Border Protection agency (CPB, part of Homeland Security) announced that Canadians “operating in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada” will be admissible for entry to the US as long as the reason for their visit is not associated with the cannabis industry.

The announcement marks a stark shift in US federal policy, led by embattled staunchly anti-cannabis Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which had issued a media release on September 21 that read: “As marijuana is still a controlled substance under United States law, working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in US states where it’s deemed legal or Canada may affect admissibility to the US” Border patrol officers had been advised of the policy and were expected to act on it.

Blaine, Washington, attorney Len Saunders–a specialist in border-crossing instances and both cannabis –told Leafly he believes the “American application of federal marijuana laws is hypocritical. ” He points out that cannabis use is legal in Washington and will be legal in British Columbia; but will continue to be penalized at the border. “They hand domestic policy to the states,&rdquo. ”

In a September interview with Politico, Todd Owen, executive assistant commissioner for CBP’s Office of Field Operations stated of the cannabis industry that “we don’t understand as a legal business” and warned of a “lifetime ban” for Canadians who have admitted to or lied about their prior drug use in addition to participation in the legal cannabis industry.

Saunders points out that the government has put its citizens at risk by telling them to be open and not to lie about cannabis use, employment or investment in the border. He doesn’t want Canadians to lie in the border, which may lead to a lifetime ban, but he warns them not to be forthcoming, either. “It’s legal here, it’s going to be legal up there, so people get caught off guard,&rdquo. ” His advice is to refuse to answer the query and try again later if refused entry.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was recently asked if an American border patrol agent asks about employment or cannabis use on a radio talk show what to do. His answer was “to reflect before answering. ” ridiculous, & rdquo Saunders said that response was & ldquo; and pointed out that Trudeau, an cannabis user, might be barred from entry to the US after his diplomatic visa expires. Although he has not admitted by leading an Ontario government that will administer legal cannabis sales, he’s guilty of aiding and abetting the proliferation of the industry.

The national policy turnaround represents a departure from the hardline tack of the administration. Cannabis use has been legalized by several states, many cities outside those countries and the District of Columbia and the majority of the others have decriminalized it. Other jurisdictions, like New York City, have abandoned the old laws on the books and just chose not to enforce them. Meanwhile, the federal government classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, which defines it. That’s the same category as cocaine and heroin.

Unable or unwilling to prosecute cannabis users within those countries, the federal government has turned its focus to those they think are moving cannabis, legal or otherwise, between state lines or over international borders, even if it’s legal on both sides.

While several people have reported being turned away from the border and even being given lifetime bans, several prominent Canadians in the industry who visit the US frequently–including May Stewart, vice-president of corporate communications for Hiku–told Leafly’s Randi Druzin which they have not heard of any of their colleagues having any trouble at the border.

Saunders said he considers any US policy that flip Canadians away from entrance because of employment use or investment to be counter-productive. “an estimated 40 percent of adults use it, you & rsquo and If it & rsquo; s lawful on both sides;re cutting out millions of Canadians,&rdquo. “And without Canadians coming in for gasoline and other products, towns like Blaine would die. ”

Changes could be coming shortly, although the reasons for the sudden policy change are uncertain. Even under the new policy, representatives of Canadian cannabis companies would be forbidden to conduct business with their American counterparts in person. Saunders admits that such a policy wouldn’t only hamper business but also could be in violation of NAFTA or other trade agreements.

The confusion won’t finish, Saunders said, until there is a harmonization between US national and state policies. “With Donald Trump–that doesn’t even drink–in office,&rdquo. ”

And with US entry ban waivers costing $585 (US) plus legal fees, the only people benefitting are Saunders and his colleagues in the legal business.

Published at Thu, 11 Oct 2018 23:28:47 +0000

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