US Customs and Border Protection clarifies stance toward Canada's legalized cannabis industry

3 minute read
15 October 2018

Following months of uncertainty surrounding the way US Border Patrol officers will assess those working in and around Canada's legalized cannabis industry, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a statement Tuesday clarifying its approach and offering some reassurance to Canadians.

While underscoring that US federal law strictly prohibits the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana (or the facilitation of any of these activities), the statement stipulates that Canadian cannabis industry participants entering the US for reasons unrelated to cannabis should have little cause for concern:

A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the US. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the US however, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.

These remarks signal a notable departure from CBP's statement late last month, which asserted that "working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in US states where it is deemed legal or Canada may affect admissibility to the US."

Although the new statement may give some comfort to law-abiding Canadians, it was careful to emphasize that those attempting to cross the border who are "determined to be a drug abuser or addict, or who is convicted of, admits having committed, or admits committing, acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of (or an attempt or conspiracy to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country" will not be permitted entry.

In recent months, there have been numerous reports of Canadian cannabis entrepreneurs and investors being denied entry to the US and occasionally incurring lifetime bans. Gowling WLG's Cannabis and Immigration groups continue to monitor these developments closely. For more information, please contact any member of our team.

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