In almost a month, cannabis will be legal all throughout Canada, and adults wishing to consume this natural medicine in private will be finally able to do so without repercussions from local law enforcement. Unfortunately, just across the country's border, marijuana use is federally prohibited, and Canadians who wish to travel to the U.S. can find themselves banned for life for smoking pot once, or even working for a cannabis-related company.
In a recent radio interview, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the dangers of admitting cannabis use to U.S. border authorities. A caller asked the PM what he should do if an American border guard asked whether he had ever used cannabis. Trudeau responded that Canadians need to be careful about how they respond to pot-related questions because anyone who admits to using cannabis even once, or anyone who works in the cannabis industry — even if they've never personally used the drug — is subject to being banned from the U.S. for life.
“I’ve never lied to a border guard,” Trudeau said, according to the Canadian Press. Although lying about the issue does seem like an easy way out, anyone caught in such a lie is also likely to be banned for life. U.S. border police have also been researching their northern neighbor’s pot industry, scouring canna-businesses’ websites and flagging each and every employee as someone who could potentially be banned from entry. Attorneys have recommended that anyone asked about their cannabis use should simply refuse to answer the questions, which might result in a temporary denial of access to the U.S., but not a permanent ban.
Trudeau said that cannabis is still a controlled substance, which is only being legalized for reasons of public health and safety. “It’s not a health food supplement. Choosing to partake of marijuana has consequences for individuals, for lives in different ways, and we’re not encouraging that.” The PM added that he “certainly won’t work to assume or impress upon the U.S. who they have to let in or not. They have legalized marijuana in a number of their states and we’re trying to make sure that travel between our two countries is not disrupted.”
So far, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have remained steadfast about their plan to keep Canadian cannabis from entering the country. In a recent statement, the agency warned that anyone attempting to bring pot into the U.S. is subject to fines and even arrest. The Canadian government has issued a number of warnings about the dangers of leaving the country with weed, and many officials from border towns are warning their residents about how their personal cannabis use could impact their ability to cross the border safely.