On October 17thof this year, Canadians will be able to purchase marijuana for recreational use. Although this is a great victory for the Cannabis industry, manufacturers, regardless if they personally use the drug, may soon be banned for life from the United States.
Cannabis, or marijuana, is considered a Schedule I drug in the United States, in the same category as cocaine and heroin. Although several states have legalized medical and recreational use of cannabis, the drug remains illegal at the federal level. Many Canadians who travel to the United States enter through Washington State, one of the few states that has legalized both medical and recreational use of marijuana. For individuals in the Cannabis industry, business trips to the United States are necessary for continued growth. As the October date approaches, many Canadians are traveling to Washington State, and other areas of the United States, to learn more about the recreational cannabis industry. However, because cannabis remains under the Schedule I distinction, Canadian immigrants risk permanent inadmissibility if border officials discover any connections between the immigrant and a criminal industry.
Affiliates at Risk
In terms of border crossing, and in most instances, federal law reigns supreme in the United States. In a statement, a Customs and Immigration spokesperson noted “”Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. states and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana all remain illegal under U.S. federal law. Consequently, crossing the border with marijuana is prohibited and could potentially result in seizure, fines, and apprehension.” Under this interpretation of U.S. law, though cannabis manufacturers operating outside of the United States may not consume marijuana, they can still face permanent bans from the U.S. for participating in illegal activities. Even if a Canadian national travels to a region in the United States that has legalized recreational use, the border is regulated under federal law. Therefore, Customs and Border Patrol agents can deny entry to those who are affiliated with the cannabis industry. Regardless if the Canadian citizen is not directly associated with the manufacturing and distribution of cannabis, investors or affiliates connected to the cannabis industry are at risk of inadmissibility and lifetime bans. As the October date draws near, Canadian citizens must weigh the risk of traveling to the United States for business with the possibility of a lifetime ban.