With cannabis legalization less than one month away, it’s become clear there could be consequences for those involved in the legal industry should they try to cross the U.S. border.
As NICHE Canada reported this week, immigration lawyers have been concerned about this for some time, but the “alarm bells got louder” this week when U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that Canadian legalization doesn’t change the fact that American laws treat marijuana as a banned substance, and industry insiders as drug traffickers.
Crossing the border in violation “may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension,” the statement said. “As marijuana continues to be a controlled substance under United States law, working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in U.S. states where it is deemed legal or Canada may affect admissibility to the U.S.”
B.C.’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is calling on Ottawa to work with the U.S. to find a solution, noting he’s heard of people who have received lifetime bans for trying to attend a cannabis event or purchase cannabis equipment in the United States.
“This is very much an issue that the federal government needs to make a priority and take very seriously in trying to find a solution, because the impact could be significant,” he said.
Farnworth has even said he’s considering dropping the word ‘cannabis’ from the name of the government’s cannabis stores because he’s worried that employees will experience problems at the border.
Indeed, we hope to see our federal government to step up, as people working in the legal cannabis industry are not criminals, and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Those in the industry undergo extensive background checks, rigorous licensing processes, and should not be penalized for their involvement.
Furthermore, the B.C. government seems concerned about their workers involved in the cannabis industry – but what about the blossoming private sector?
Our governments must be concerned about all of those in the legal cannabis industry, not just those under their employ.
Border Security Minister Bill Blair has yet to hint that Ottawa plans to intervene.
Blair said in a statement that the U.S. “has the sovereign jurisdiction to deal with people crossing the border into their country, just as we have the same powers for those entering into Canada.”
“Previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by U.S. federal laws, could mean that you are denied entry to the U.S. Involvement in the legal cannabis industry in Canada could also result in your being denied entry,” Blair added.
We hope the federal government will provide leadership on this issue and provide greater clarity to Canadians involved in the legal cannabis industry whether they are employees, owners, or investors.