To avoid US entry ban, refuse to answer questions and revoke request

Jamaica To Canada

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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Dear Mr Brown,

I was recently made aware that Canadians who use marijuana or invest in Canadian marijuana companies will be permanently banned from the United States. Could you please shed some light on this.

— GM

Dear GM:

There was a recent report by a senior US Customs and Border Protection official that Canadians may be barred from entering the United States for: smoking marijuana legally; working in Canada's legal marijuana industry; and investing in legal Canadian marijuana companies.

The sale, possession, production, and distribution of marijuana remain illegal under US federal law so, although it has been legalised at the state level for medicinal and/or recreational use, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. There are no plans to change US border policies to account for Canada's marijuana legalisation, which will take effect on October 17, 2018. There have already been cases of individuals being given lifetime entry bans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that although he does not have the right to press the US on admission policy, Canada is working with US officials for undisrupted travel between the two countries.

Responses at the border

It was also reported that US border officers will not be asking every Canadian about their marijuana use. However, if there is reasonable and probable grounds for questioning, then the matter would be pursued.

That said, there are many concerns at this time regarding:

• The lack of clarity pertaining to the threshold as an investor or mutual fund holder; and

• The potential profiling of people stereotyped as likely marijuana users.

Technically, workers from the greenhouses to retail clerks at government-run liquor stores could be eligible for a lifetime ban. Aiding and abetting and “living off the avails of crime” are also included in those who may be banned.

At any border crossing checkpoint, US Customs and Border Protection officials have the power to conduct a search of your car, yourself, and your possessions without a warrant. Phones may be searched and there may be questions about past drug use at the border. Travellers can refuse to answer a US officer's questions.

Advice for those who are eligible for bans and who face questioning would be to refuse to answer questions and to abandon the quest to enter the US, in order to be able to try again in the future.

Please visit jamaica2canada.com for additional information on Canadian permanent residence programmes, including Express Entry, the Study & Work programme, visas or appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration and education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to jamaica2canada@gmail.com.

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