US Border Officials Emphasize Pot Is Illegal as Canada Legalizes Marijuana

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 18, 2018US News

United States border officials are emphasizing that pot is still illegal in the country as Canada fully legalized marijuana on Oct. 17.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforces the laws of the United States, and the U.S. laws have not changed following Canada’s legalization of marijuana today,” Christopher Perry of the border agency told the Associated Press. “Penalties could involve seizure. They could involve financial penalties. But, again, that’s based on the totality of the circumstances that are presented to the officer.”

In a statement on Sept. 21, the agency said people in violation of the law could be denied admission to the United States or be apprehended in addition to having the drugs seized and be subject to fines.

Perry said that border officials are still asking the same questions to people trying to enter the United States and don’t generally ask about people’s marijuana use.

“Federal law supersedes state law in the United States. So, it would be illegal federally for anyone to enter the United States with marijuana,” he noted.

“We’re experiencing currently no negative impact at the border related to this, and we don’t anticipate any negative impact. It could result in some additional inspections. But, again, we’re not anticipating any negative impact,” he added.

canada us border
A file photo shows vehicles waiting to enter the U. S. at the border crossing between Blaine, Washington, and White Rock, B.C., in White Rock. (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Workers Potentially Blocked

Even people who work in the marijuana industry in Canada but do not consume the drug could be blocked from entry into the United States, a Customs and Border Protection official said.

“Working in or facilitating the proliferation of the marijuana industry in Canada, or U.S. states where it is deemed legal, may affect a foreign national’s admissibility to the United States,” the spokesperson told Fox News.

The situation could lead to a lifetime ban on Canadians.

But in the Sept. 21 statement, the agency noted that a Canadian working in the industry will likely be granted entry into America.

“A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. 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,” the agency said.

“Generally, any arriving alien who is 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 relating to a controlled substance, is inadmissible to the United States.”

The policy only applies to foreign nationals. Canadian officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have urged citizens to be truthful when speaking with border agents.

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