(If the Trudeau government doesn’t take action now), “You’re going to see hundreds of thousands of Canadians denied entry to the United States because they admitted to using cannabis.”
“If there’s not some sort of change or agreement made between the two countries, then absolutely there are going to be significant problems on July 2.”
— NDP health critic Don Davies, National Post, Sept. 14, 2017.
Although a number of U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana, pot remains illegal under federal law, which applies at the border.
As a result, Canadians have been turned away by U.S. border officials — sometimes for simply admitting they’ve used it.
Canada is moving to legalize recreational pot use by July 1. The NDP wants the Liberal government to reach an agreement with the U.S. that would ensure free travel over the border following legalization.
Don Davies, the NDP’s health critic, fears that in the absence of such an agreement, there will be major problems next July and hundreds of thousands of Canadians will be turned away at the border.
Is he right?
Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below).
This one earns a rating of “some baloney.” The assertion is partly accurate but important details are missing.
Many U.S. states allow medical or recreational use of marijuana. However, cultivation, possession and distribution of the drug remain illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.
The border falls under federal jurisdiction, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can deny Canadians and other non-citizens entry on a number of marijuana-related grounds.
Those include a pot conviction in the United States or abroad, or even an admission of use without a conviction; reason to believe someone is involved in drug trafficking; being deemed a “drug abuser” or a “drug addict”; or an intention to violate the federal Controlled Substances Act, for instance, by smoking pot in the U.S., even in a state where it’s legal.
Once ruled inadmissible, a traveller might require a special waiver to enter the U.S.
What the experts say
Immigration lawyers on both sides of the border say there is often a reason, such as a visual cue or statement, as to why people are questioned about drug use when crossing into the U.S.
“If you show up at…