On October 17, 2018, the Cannabis Act went into aftereffect and legalized recreational marijuana use in Canada. On both abandon of the border, the new law has created uncertainty. Americans abide borderline how the law ability affect them back they cantankerous into Canada and reenter the United States. Canadian tourists and business people, decidedly those alive in cannabis-related companies, are additionally afraid about how they will be advised by U.S. inspectors at the U.S.-Canada border.
To bigger accept the new law and its appulse on both Canadians and Americans, I interviewed advocate Scott Bettridge, armchair of the clearing convenance at Cozen O’Connor.
Stuart Anderson: How did the Cannabis Act change the law on the auction and use of marijuana in Canada?
Scott Bettridge: The Cannabis Act created a austere acknowledged framework for authoritative the production, distribution, auction and control of cannabis beyond Canada. Subject to bigoted or territorial and added basal restrictions, adults 18 years of age or earlier are accurately able to buy, possess, abound and allotment cannabis.
Anderson: How does the new law affect U.S. travelers to Canada?
Bettridge: Those U.S. citizens intending to arch arctic for “marijuana tourism” will accurately be accustomed to buy and use cannabis. It is alike acknowledged to backpack marijuana on air biking amid two Canadian cities so continued as you are of age and backpack aural the acknowledged limits. Use caution, however, as the rules are altered beyond cities and provinces, and they are the ones amenable for developing, implementing, advancement and administration systems to baby-sit the administration and auction of cannabis. Cities and ambit are additionally able to access and add their own assurance measures over and aloft Federal rules, including akin area adults may absorb cannabis, so be abiding to analysis bigoted and bounded laws above-mentioned to any travels.
Anderson: Does the new Canadian law accept any appulse on the prohibition adjoin bringing marijuana into America?
Bettridge: Regardless of the amends of cannabis in Canada, you still cannot biking beyond all-embracing borders with marijuana, alike if it you are traveling to a U.S. accompaniment that allows for some anatomy of legalized use or possession. This applies to cannabis or any artefact complete cannabis or alike if the advised use is for medical purposes. Those who do can face austere bent penalties, such as fines or alike bastille time, alike if unintentional.
Anderson: What issues could a Canadian who uses marijuana face at the border?
Bettridge: A abundant added cogent affair is that antecedent use of cannabis, in any capacity, could aftereffect in individuals actuality denied access into the United States. Beneath federal law, cannabis charcoal banned as a Schedule 1 controlled actuality beneath the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, agnate to drugs such as heroin. U.S. Customs and Bound Protection (CBP) enforces federal laws, which abandon any accompaniment law, and it is a bent act to grow, distribute, possess, acceptation and advertise any controlled substance, including marijuana. These laws additionally extend to the auction or use of biologic paraphernalia.
Anderson: And there is no aberration amid the way Customs and Bound Protection inspectors and consular admiral at the Department Accompaniment adapt the law, correct?
Bettridge: Correct. The Department of State’s Adopted Affairs chiral accurately addendum that “whether or not a controlled actuality is acknowledged beneath accompaniment law, it is not accordant to its abomination beneath federal law.” Therefore, back non-U.S. citizens present themselves for acceptance into the United States, CBP will abide to abode if they are “admissible” to the United States. A abuse of any state, federal or alike adopted country law accompanying to controlled substances may cede that alone exceptionable to the U.S. based on any cardinal of accompanying “grounds of inadmissibility.” These area may accommodate “drug trafficking.”
Anderson: Can you explain U.S. action as it relates to a Canadian complex in the cannabis business in Canada and the types of restrictions he or she ability face?
Bettridge: Abounding individuals alter the appellation biologic trafficking and accept it alone relates to biologic smuggling. In fact, biologic trafficking authentic includes simple “involvement” in the auction and administration of actionable drugs. Therefore, inadmissibility to the United States may be based on the actuality that an alone artlessly works in the cannabis industry abroad, including Canada, area it is now legal.
If a Customs and Bound Protection Administrator knows or has acumen to accept an alone is or has been an adulterous trafficker, or alike aids, abets or assists in the auction and administration of marijuana, they may be activate disqualified to access the United States. We accept apparent that this estimation extends to those complex in any aspect of the cannabis industry abroad, as an buyer or investor, or alike those complex with accompanying industry products, such as seeding, lighting or agriculture the product. Disclosure of any cannabis-related activity, alike while traveling to the U.S. as a business aggregation to appear a cannabis-related affair or conference, may beforehand to an alone actuality activate inadmissible. This can accommodate a abiding bar to the United States.
U.S. Customs and Bound Protection appear a annual that included this sentence: “A Canadian aborigine alive in or facilitating the admeasurement of the acknowledged marijuana industry in Canada, advancing to the U.S. for affidavit different to the marijuana industry will about be acceptable to the U.S. However, if a adventurer is activate to be advancing to the U.S. for acumen accompanying to the marijuana industry, they may be accounted inadmissible.”
Anderson: Accept there been abounding cases in contempo years of bodies actuality accounted exceptionable accompanying to cannabis? Are there waivers available?
Bettridge: Based on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics, about 22,000 Canadians were accounted to be exceptionable to the United States aftermost year based on any cardinal of grounds. While DHS does not absolution anniversary specific reason, I accept that abounding were based on issues accompanying to actuality complex in the cannabis industry in Canada.
Recent letters announce “hundreds” of cannabis-related issues per week. Upon analytic and an ultimate award of inadmissibility, including those actuality barred assuredly from the U.S., assertive waivers of inadmissibility may be accessible based on the claim of anniversary situation.
Waivers may be accessible for nonimmigrant, acting acceptance entry, such as a visitor, or alike for immigrant visas back an appellant is contrarily acceptable for a blooming card. While I acknowledgment this option, I additionally accept to acknowledgment these are acutely difficult to access and may booty months to accept an answer.
Adjudicating admiral accept complete acumen back it comes to acceding a abandonment and that accommodation is based on abounding factors, including any affirmation submitted by the applicant. If inadmissibility is based on a cannabis-related confidence or offense, you would charge to appearance you accept been active and added facts, such as back the breach occurred, will be taken into account. As it applies to those artlessly alive in the cannabis industry, it may be easier to ultimately overcome, at atomic based on the accepted acknowledgment criteria. Alone time will tell, and I doubtable that action accouterment may behest some changes in this regard, both concise and long-term.
Anderson: Abounding Americans ability acquisition it odd that there are these types of behavior on the U.S. bound accustomed that so abounding U.S. states accept some anatomy of marijuana legalization.
Bettridge: Nearly every accompaniment forth the U.S.-Canada bound has legalized marijuana in some anatomy or fashion. But again, the bound avalanche beneath federal administration and federal laws are enforced. Absent any changes to federal law, such as potentially bottomward marijuana from actuality a Schedule 1 controlled substance, it is actual acceptable these issues will abide to be enforced.
Anderson: What about the appulse on a Canadian who works in the U.S. on a TN or L visa?
Bettridge: Similarly, alike those with a nonimmigrant (temporary) acceptance accustomed by U.S. Citizenship and Clearing Services (USCIS), such as H-1B, TN or L-1, may still be activate exceptionable to the U.S. for agnate reasons.
The aboriginal acceptance address filed with USCIS would outline the basal abilities for the requisite visa, such as possessing a accompanying amount or acquaintance with the aggregation away in a condoning capacity, as able-bodied as the individual’s qualifications. Obviously, while that address should not accommodate any misrepresentations, a aggregation in the U.S. affianced in the business of cannabis-related articles or analysis may book to appoint a adopted worker.
Once approved, that agent would booty his or her accustomed address to the bound (if Canadian) or to a U.S. Consulate or U.S. Embassy away to administer for a acceptance based on that approval. At the bound or Embassy, agnate questions would still be asked accompanying to the individual’s accomplished or accepted activities abroad. Based on those answers, they still may be activate exceptionable to the United States or disqualified for the acceptance based on actuality a “drug trafficker.” Simply, accepting an accustomed address doesn’t allow any “safe haven” for these employees.
Anderson: What types of questions ability a Canadian advancing to the U.S. face today from an American clearing ambassador at the border?
Bettridge: CBP Admiral accept ample acumen to ask any accommodation accompanying catechism they account adapted to anniversary individual. They will about activate with “What is the purpose of your cruise to the United States?” and can beforehand to “Have you anytime smoked marijuana?” based on any cardinal of circumstances. Admiral are apprehensive by nature, back that is their job. They can ask any questions accompanying to an individual’s job or employer, or alike delving for admonition apropos any above-mentioned convictions.
Clearly, if you access at the bound acutely beneath the access of drugs or alike alcohol, you are in for a continued afternoon of questions at accessory inspection. This analysis action could aftereffect in an administrator demography a affidavit statement, fingerprints and alike cancelling an individual’s visa, which will break assuredly with the alone and absolutely accept a abiding appulse on approaching travels. It’s important to bethink that this action and approaching appulse is not alone accompanying to business travel. This applies to ancestors vacations, visiting your accouchement who may be in academy or active in the U.S., or alike to gluttonous approaching application in the United States. The bans can be permanent. It’s actual far-reaching.
Anderson: What admonition do you accept for business bodies and visitors on both abandon of the border?
Bettridge: Our admonition has been geared mainly appear Canadians gluttonous access to the United States. First, we are advising audience to use accepted sense. Do not accept a marijuana blade on your business card. Do not abrasion shirts, hats or added accouterment that celebrates the industry. Similarly, do not abode pro-marijuana stickers on your laptop, buzz or accustomed case. Anniversary of your backing may be searched at any time by an CBP Officer.
If you are active in a binding industry, such as lighting, for example, if asked, altercate your activity and aggregation in accepted terms, allege to a array of articles actuality offered, do not activate a altercation accompanying to “grow lights.” That said, we admonish to consistently be honest and truthful. There accept been abounding instances area individuals adulterate facts and issues in the acceptance they are “helping” their cause, alone to acquisition out the adamant “fraud” has worse after-effects than the aboriginal truth. Also, be acquainted that CBP Admiral may analysis amusing media or use online accoutrement to “corroborate” your story. If you explain your job appellation and job duties, be abiding your LinkedIn contour matches.
For employers, we are advising to accept discussions in beforehand with advisers who biking to the U.S. for business purposes. They may adjudge to baddest one agent over addition to appear a affair or appointment based on abounding factors. While some administration may acquisition these discussions afflictive or unnecessary, cerebration they “know” their employees, we are advising administration to appetite their agents to administer for trusted adventurer programs such as Global Entry, TSA pre-check, NEXUS, etc. The majority of these programs accept pre-interviews afore approval. If an agent encounters any issues during this process, it is awful acceptable they would appointment agnate issues at the U.S.-Canada border.
At this time, we are blind of any agnate issues accompanying to application in the U.S. cannabis industry and biking into Canada. Overall, be acute and plan advanced for the best results.
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