As Canada prepares to legalize cannabis nationwide beginning October 17th, a high-level official in the Trump administration says the United States will now start implementing possible lifetime bans on Canadian citizens who are cannabis users, industry workers, or investors.
In an extensive interview with Politico, Todd Owen, the executive assistant commissioner for the Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Field Operations, said, “Our officers are not going to be asking everyone whether they have used cannabis, but if other questions lead there—or if there is a smell coming from the car, they might ask.”
If such history is learned about someone trying to cross the border, Owen explained, or they lie about it, “that’s fraud and misrepresentation, which carries a lifetime ban.”
As it stands, anyone who admits to using an illegal drug, regardless of its status in their home country, can be barred from entering the U.S.
While nearly all border states have some form of legalized cannabis use, it remains illegal under U.S. federal law, which classifies those who work in the cannabis industry as drug traffickers.
Travelers who receive lifetime bans are eligible to apply for a waiver, although it can take months to process and costs $585 to apply.
In a piece titled, “U.S. Border Policy on Pot Is About to Get Even Stupider,” Splinter’s Sophie Weiner points out that upcoming “midterms could change all of this. If Democrats take the House, bills changing the legal definition of weed suddenly become more likely.”
Canada is currently the world’s only major industrialized nation to legalize retail cannabis. The Canadian cannabis sector is projected to generate billions of dollars of revenue in coming years and Canadians have flocked to take jobs and buy stocks in the flourishing industry.