A wealthy British Lord may end up getting permanently banned from entering the US after admitting to the press that he smoked a joint in Colorado.
Baron Daniel Finkelstein, a 59-year-old British journalist and a Conservative member of the British Parliament, recently detailed his experiment with legal weed in The Times. In his weekly column, Finkelstein explained that even though he doesn't consume tobacco, alcohol, or coffee, he didn't want to turn 60 without having tried marijuana at least once. So, on a recent trip to Colorado, he decided to score some legal bud.
Finkelstein wrote that he and his family carefully researched Colorado's adult-use regulations to ensure that they weren't breaking any laws. He and his eldest son then went to a legal dispensary in Boulder and copped a baggie of Jelly Pie. And since Colorado still prohibits public cannabis smoking, the Lord respected the law and waited until he was visiting a local friend before lighting up a joint.
“The effect wasn’t great,” he wrote, according to The Guardian. “It didn’t change my life. After my second drag I told the others that I had now decided I was against capitalism and nuclear weapons, but in truth I was just the same as before, except very gently mellow.”
But even though Finkelstein took great care to follow state laws, he still violated federal law, which continues to prohibit high-THC cannabis. And thanks to America's extreme immigration policies, his recent admission might just get him banned for life. All US work and tourist visa applications include a question asking whether the applicant has ever used or sold illegal drugs. Anyone who answers yes to this question can be permanently banned from entering the country, and anyone who is caught lying can also get banned.
Charlotte Slocombe, a partner at the Fragomen law firm and US immigration law expert, told The Guardian that Finkelstein is now likely to run afoul of this law. Since US immigration officials have full access to social media and the news, they “could ask questions around use of drugs, and any admission could lead to becoming inadmissible for a visa,” she explained. “You do not need to be convicted to be deemed inadmissible under US immigration.”
Slocombe added that “there are more instances of issues at the border with customs and border protection than at US embassies, but yes there is a real issue, particularly along the Canadian/US border because it is now legal in Canada.”
Shortly before Canada legalized adult-use cannabis in 2018, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials issued warnings reminding Canadians that even one single puff of pot is enough to get you permanently banned from crossing the border. Immigration officials initially threatened to ban Canadians who even worked in the weed industry, and actually started researching Canadian cannabis business websites to draw up a list of people who should have their visas denied.
Fortunately, the CBP abandoned this insane idea just days before Canada officially legalized weed. But although cannabis industry workers are now legally allowed to enter the country, the restriction against actually using marijuana remains in full effect. So despite his efforts to follow the law, Finkelstein may end up getting his next tourist visa denied, just like any Canadian who admits to partaking in their country's legal weed industry.
Cover image via