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Investors in marijuana stocks may be denied entry into US, border official says

The Peach Arch border crossing, which bisects Surrey, BC and Blaine, Washington.

More marijuana border crossing concerns, this time for investors (?). Yep.

Canadian workers and even Canadian investors in the marijuana industry could be at risk of denied entry into the United States, according to US Customs and Border Protection official who says lying to CBP officers about one’s affiliation with the cannabis industry could bring about charges of fraud and a lifetime ban.

As Canada’s marijuana industry enters its last days before recreational cannabis becomes legally available across the country, a new report says that involvement in the sector could cause problems at the US border, where cannabis is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance.

CBP executive assistant commissioner for the Office of Field Operations Todd Owen spoke to Politico last week and said that while border agents won’t be grilling everyone on the topic of cannabis, if and when travellers do admit to using marijuana, they will be denied entry into the US.

“Our officers are not going to be asking everyone whether they have used marijuana, but if other questions lead there — or if there is a smell coming from the car, they might ask,” said Owens, who added that if asked about cannabis, travellers should not lie. “If you lie about it, that’s fraud and misrepresentation, which carries a lifetime ban,” Owen said.

marijuana border crossing

Politico reporter Luiza Savage said CBP agents have a lot of discretion when it comes to applying the rules. “They’re taking a pretty strict interpretation in that they’re not saying, ‘Well, it’s legal there and so you’re not facilitating any illegal drug activity.’ They’re taking the view that if it’s illegal in the United States, that’s enough for them,” says Savage to CNBC.

Marijuana border crossing woes

“I asked specifically, ‘What if you just have some stocks in your portfolio? Is there a minimum threshold for this to kick in?’ And the answer was that as long as you’re doing something to facilitate the even legal in Canada and in some US states marijuana industry then that may affect your admissibility,” she says. “So, it’s a very wide range of discretion that they have and they have a lot of rights at the border to look at your phone, to ask you questions. It’s something that investors, workers and users of marijuana should know about.”

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to straddle the issue, stating that while he’s reluctant to put pressure on US officials to adapt to Canada’s upcoming legalization, his government is nonetheless in dialogue with the US on the topic.

“Every country has the right to judge whoever comes into their borders,” said Trudeau to CBC News. “I wouldn’t presume to have any other country tell me how or who we can let into Canada and I certainly won’t work to assume or impress upon the US who they have to let in.”

“But there’s no question that we’re working with the US officials. They have legalized marijuana in a number of states and we’re trying to make sure that travel between our two countries is not disrupted,” Trudeau said.

Cantech Letter Cannabis Section

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.
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