Crossing the border may become much more difficult for a certain group of Canadians come October 17, 2018.
While marijuana users have been gearing up for potential issues at the border for some time, it now appears that people working in the cannabis industry may also be affected—regardless of whether they use the drug or not.
Under U.S. law, anyone associated with the cannabis industry could be banned from entering the country for life, even after it is legalized in Canada nationwide. If it seems harsh, that’s because it is…but it’s all in the context of the war on drugs.
Even though some states, like Washington and Colorado, have chosen to legalize the drug, cannabis is still illegal in the U.S. on a whole. At a federal level, cannabis is prohibited and is classified as a Schedule I substance.
This means that once you cross the border, the joint you touched last week is just as illegal as cocaine or heroin under American law…and rest assured, U.S. border guards will be treating it that way, regardless of what we are allowed to do in our own country.
So, while some marijuana-smoking Canadians have already thought about how they will answer questions about their consumption when crossing the border, people working in the cannabis industry may not have turned their minds to how seemingly benign questions about their employment could affect them.
A question as simple as “what do you do for a living?” could result in a lifetime ban for people who work with cannabis.
It is a scary thought…which is made all the more frightening by the sheer potential of its scope.
After all, the Canadian cannabis industry is booming.
With countless cannabis startups popping up, the legal cannabis market in North American is now worth around $10 billion. Market research tends to indicate that this trend will only continue, with projections indicating that the market will be worth nearly $25 billion over three years.
With Canada set to become the global leader in cannabis, a huge number of Canadians are increasingly likely to become involved in this emerging business.
Moreover, definitions of what it means to be involved in the cannabis industry could be wide-ranging and varied. This means that the ban could be applied well beyond employees of your local dispensary.
If you receive financial remuneration for your participation or promotion of cannabis, you may be affected. This means that activists, entrepreneurs, investors, and even people working for cannabis lifestyle products—who may never touch the drug itself in the course of their employment—could be banished.
Under American law, people working in the cannabis industry are considered to be living off the profits of the drug trade…which is a major problem for the U.S. war on drugs.
Taking this approach, the question of whether or not the person actually uses marijuana is likely to be irrelevant. It also does not seem to matter that Canadians are working legally, in a legal industry, and earning a legal income, in their own country.
An affront on justice, perhaps…but American border guards are just doing their job when they enforce American laws.
And there is not a whole lot that we can do about it.
Once declared inadmissible, the only way for the affected person to gain entry into the U.S. would be to seek a legal waiver. These waivers can be expensive and time consuming. They also require periodic renewals, as they are only good for between one and five years.
This could turn out to be cost prohibitive for many Canadians. Plus, there is no guarantee that a person's waiver application will be ultimately approved.
All of this means that if you are associated with the cannabis industry, your next vacation down south may have just gotten a little bit more complicated.
But whatever you do when crossing the border, make sure to be as honest as possible if questioned.
If caught lying to a border guard, you could be banned for that act alone.
And that is something that you will surely want to avoid.